Letter to the Community, Monday, May 4th, 2020

Dear Friends Camp Community, 

With great sadness, we are writing to share that our youth sessions (Jones, Mott, Rustin, and Fell) have been cancelled for 2020. 

For the last few months, the Friends Camp staff and committee have been working hard to imagine how we could make camp work this summer. Last week, Governor Mills rolled out guidelines for the phased re-opening of Maine, including camps. These guidelines prohibit any overnight camp from opening before July 1 and, after July 1, allow a maximum group size of 50 and require a 14-day quarantine for anyone traveling from out of state. With these restrictions and the social distancing, healthcare monitoring, and sanitation procedures necessary during a pandemic, it has become clear that we will not be able to host camp sessions as we planned this summer. 

Since 1953, campers and staff have gathered to create a community built in love, belonging, and joy. Some of our favorite moments each summer are those where we are close together, shoulder-to-shoulder around a campfire, in calm silence at Vespers, and cheering each other on at the variety show. Simple times like lunchtime and rest hour even take on a special glow at camp. We will miss sharing these moments together in the coming months. 

Friends Camp is a haven of fun and silliness, and it is also a place of enormous growth, belonging, and community for our youth. Losing a year of camp is a big deal to our campers and to their families. Click here to see a video from our camp director for campers, acknowledging some feelings campers may be having. We will be in touch shortly by email with all registered families regarding deposits and refunds. 

We are exploring ways to meet the evolving needs of our campers, families, staff members, and local communities. This might include small re-imagined gatherings on site for youth from Maine in late summer, “live” virtual gatherings, content in different formats for youth from our staff, or retreats in Fall. During May and June, we will learn more about what is safe and possible, and we will be in touch with more details.  

We are more grateful than ever for the enormous network of connections that has made Friends Camp such a special place for the last 67 years. We, and Quakers across New England, are holding in the Light each member of the Friends Camp community. Today, we especially send love those who were planning to spend time on China Lake this summer. 

In peace,
Anna Hopkins (Camp Director) and the Friends Camp Committee
director@friendscamp.org(207) 877-4302 

Update Regarding Work Weekend planned for May 29-31, 2020:

Due to the travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines currently in place, we have decided to cancel the work weekend planned for late May. If you are interested in providing volunteer help with projects on the Friends Camp property this summer or fall, please reach out to Anna at director@friendscamp.org. Thank you to all our loyal supporters who make work weekend possible each year. We’ll be back in 2021!

An Update Regarding our 2020 alumni gathering, emailed to registered alumni on Monday, April 27th:

Dear Alumni,
With disappointment, Susan Morris (former camp director) and I have decided to postpone the alumni reunion at camp until 2021. We were and are so excited for this gathering. We are dreaming of a large and inclusive gathering, with people traveling from great distances to be together at Friends Camp. Unfortunately, this kind of gathering won’t be possible this summer. Because of possible travel restrictions and the need to plan travel early, concerns for visitors who are in at-risk categories, and the physical restrictions of being together at camp, we know that we won’t be able to host an event that is as safe and as inclusive as we need it to be in August. Since I know you will wonder, we have not made an official call yet about summer sessions for youth at camp this summer. Our camp committee is actively considering what will be safe and possible for youth camp, as we wait for recommendations from the Maine CDC and the American Camp Association. My heart is with you and your loved ones as you navigate carrying on through this pandemic. I wish that we could be together around a campfire this summer!

Moving Forward
We are looking forward to continuing to plan the reunion for 2021 and gathering together in person after this pandemic. We will host a few alumni gatherings online in the coming months; we hope to see you there! You will receive this information by email and in the Friends Camp Dinosaurs Club on Facebook.

Money Matters
If you have already paid your fee for reunion, I can send you a refund by check as soon as you confirm your mailing address by email. If you are able and willing, perhaps you might be able to donate a portion or all of your fee to Friends Camp. We know and understand that this crisis has affected us all differently, and some may not be able to spare any portion of these funds. As we walk into uncharted territories this summer, we know that we will need to raise significant funds to help carry Friends Camp through. If you are able, perhaps you can chip in a bit to help guarantee that Friends Camp is around for the next 67 years of campers?

With gratitude for the wonderful community of Friends Camp alums,
Anna Hopkins
(207) 877-4302

Letter to Camp Community, April 16th

Dear Friends Camp Community,

It has been so heartening to talk with our enrolled families and counselors over the last few weeks. While this pandemic is challenging for us all, the spirit and connections of Friends Camp are stronger than ever! 

We are very grateful to those in our larger community who are working to keep us all safe. And we are grateful to each one of you in the Friends Camp community, and hold you in the Light.

We are still planning on hosting our scheduled sessions at camp this summer; however, we are also planning contingencies in case it is not safe to operate camp. The State of Maine and the American Camp Association are providing essential guidance for us, and we will do our best to make a decision that is safe and in keeping with our Quaker values. In the event that we cannot offer in-person camp sessions, we will adapt to meet the needs of our camper and staff communities as best we can.

But for now, it’s time we gathered together – virtually, of course! We’ve planned a few ways for us to get together over the next week. We’re offering a Zumba class, alumni trivia night, coffee club with Nat & Jeff, vespers, and stories and songs for kids. Check out details and register above!

With hope and love,
Anna Hopkins
Camp Director, (207) 877-4302, director@friendscamp.org

Letter to registered families, March 30th.

Dear camper parents,

How are you doing? These are certainly difficult days. I hope that you and your families are safe and cared for. Thank you to those who are staying home to protect the greater health of our communities, and to those who must keep working to keep the rest of us fed and healthy. We appreciate you.

I want to acknowledge the impacts of the pandemic on summer camp operations. Right now, it is too early to know exactly what those impacts will be, but I will keep you closely informed as we know more. Members of our camp committee and staff are meeting weekly to monitor the situation. The most important notes are below:

  • At this time are still planning to offer 8 weeks of camp programming this summer, including the sessions your child(ren) are registered for. We will let you know promptly if that changes.
  • We will, of course, take guidance and direction from the Maine CDC, Maine Summer Camps, and more.
  • We are considering contingencies such as a shortened summer or no camp sessions.
  • We are preparing to adjust health policies and provide additional mental health support for campers in response to the pandemic.
  • Should we need to cancel or adjust camp, we will offer refunds or camp credits for the following year (your choice). 
  • As camp plans evolve, I will keep you informed of where we are. If you would like to talk with me at any time, please reach out by email or by cell phone (207) 877-4302. 

Friends Camp is important for all of us, and it’s time to get creative to help our campers feel connected, supported, independent, hopeful, and loved. On that note, we are seeking more ways for campers to connect: with each other, with camp staff, and with their inner sense of calm and joy that many describe feeling while at camp. 

  • Our camp counselors have been taking over our Instagram daily, sharing about their lives and how they are getting through the pandemic. It’s silly, authentic, and upbeat. Check it out at https://www.instagram.com/friendscamp/.
  • We’re going to have a VARIETY SHOW over Zoom—Monday, April 6th at 6 pm! Click here to register to attend and/or perform. We hope your whole family might join! Great acts might include dances, skits, music performances, stories, or more. This will be an all-ages show! 
  • Are there other ways we can help during this time? Please, let me know if you have ideas about how we could help bring some camp spirit during a challenging time.

With care and hope,
Anna Hopkins
Friends Camp Director
(207) 877-4302