The YMCA Camp of Maine is a traditional co-ed overnight camp for campers ages 7-16 years, located on 250 acres of heavily forested property along the shores of Cobbossee Lake in Winthrop. Each summer, a diverse group of campers and staff gather from throughout the state of Maine, across the United States, and around the world.
Campers have the opportunity to create their own unique activity schedule by choosing activities within our four program areas: Waterfront, Sports, Creative Arts, and Outdoor Living Skills (OLS).
One of the more recently added activity offerings in the Outdoor Living Skills OLS program is Gardening. Thanks to a grant secured from Maine Agriculture in the Classroom and the support and oversight from alum Martha Simpson, a raised garden bed was constructed on the YMCA Camp of Maine property in 2020. Over the last two years, the garden has been expanded with an additional raised garden bed and Gardening has been incorporated into daily programming. Campers are able to learn all about the gardening process, from seeding to harvesting as well as making delicious foods to enjoy at mealtimes.
The Gardening activity groups work closely with the seasonal chef. Campers harvest a variety of vegetables and herbs and then join Chef Mike in the kitchen to learn how to use the foods they have grown in their camp meals. Campers have made garlic butter, roasted zucchini, kale chips, and more through this “farm-to-table” addition to the Garden program!
More recently, the Gardening program has expanded to include caring for the family of chickens, collecting eggs and feeding them daily. Campers have also been introduced to composting, separating all food scraps from the garbage to support a local farm.
The benefits of the Gardening program are seen daily among the community of campers and staff as they learn different valuable skills each day. Campers are able to see their hard work come to fruition as they watch the fruits, vegetables, and herbs grow as a result of their care and diligence. They learn about the value of seeking local ingredients for our meals at camp. They experience the pride of visiting the salad bar and seeing the lettuce they helped to harvest earlier in the day. Plus, they get a healthy snack during the day as they munch on the snap peas and strawberries they are collecting!
For more information, check out www.maineycamp.org