Anyone else getting super excited to start planning for Summer 2021? After a very different (and sometimes challenging) school year, we’re looking forward to providing our kids with fun new adventures when the weather warms up. If you’re interested in a sleepaway camp for your daughter, you don’t want to miss our interview with Sue McMullan, Camp Director at Alford Lake Camp in Maine.
Alford Lake Camp was founded in 1907, so clearly has quite a history! Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Alford Lake Camp is a traditional sleepaway camp for girls 8-15, located near Camden, Maine. We offer 3 week and 7 week sessions. It is a place where each of us learns the importance of friendship, kindness, and inclusivity through adventure and group living.
What separates Alford Lake Camp from other sleepaway camp options for girls?
Our choice-based program differentiates Alford Lake from other camps. It is unusual in that we allow girls to choose their individual activities as the day progresses, empowering them to make decisions and discover their own interests. Alford Lake is also known to be an incredibly friendly, warm, nurturing, and welcoming community.
What are the benefits of an all-girl sleep away camp experience?
At an all-girls residential camp, girls develop their independence, confidence, and leadership skills in a unique way when boys aren’t around. At ALC, they are free to be themselves and are surrounded by strong, encouraging female role models. Girls leave Alford Lake Camp empowered to return to their home communities where they know they can go out and make a difference in the world.
Sounds great. What is a typical day like for Alford Lake Camp girls?
Each day at Alford Lake is filled with activities, laughter with friends, time to relax, meals together like a family and evening entertainment. Girls choose from a schedule with between 3-5 activities each period of the day, allowing them freedom of choice and the chance to specialize in the areas that interest them the most. They also can pace themselves through the day, choosing a quieter activity like library if they want some down time, or heading to the climbing wall if they’re feeling adventurous. Counselors guide campers who need assistance making decisions.
Where are most of your girls that attend from?
Alford Lake Camp alumnae live in every state in the US except for North Dakota! Most campers come from the Northeast, but we have campers from across the US and around the world.
Can you tell us a bit about the global challenge trips—such a unique part of your program.
Alford Lake offers Global Challenge Trips as an option for our oldest campers. Whether it is spending seven weeks hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine, five weeks hiking in the Alps, four weeks of backpacking in Colorado or seven weeks of kayaking, island living, and sailing in Nova Scotia, all of the trips offer new challenges and exciting opportunities. These opportunities are for our returning campers.
What is Alford Lake Camp doing in terms of COVID-readiness?
Alford Lake camp is closely following all the local and national CDC updates and recommendations and those of the American Camp Association. We are also working with colleagues in independent schools and those camps who opened last summer to learn more about their successes in re-opening. We have an outstanding medical team who are active and knowledgeable about COVID-19. We’re so fortunate because our campers live in large white canvas tents that allow for lots of natural ventilation. Hand sanitizing and cleanliness has always been a priority for us, so we feel that we can move on to other important health management guidelines specific to COVID-19.
Why are you so committed to opening and giving girls who want to experience camp that experience, after such a crazy, and sometimes very difficult, year?
Alford Lake Camp first opened in 1907 and has been a home away from home for generations of girls ever since. We are determined to provide campers with a summer filled with friendship, fun, outdoor adventure, and laughter. After more than a year in front of screens, they’ll be tech-free. They need camp more than ever and so do we!
Archery, Art, Basketry, Ceramics, Canoeing, Climbing Wall, Community Service, Drama, Dance, Gymnastics, Ropes Course, Kayaking, Library, Outdoor Living Skills, Paddle boarding, Riding, Sailing, Sports, Swimming (Red Cross lessons are required), Tennis, and Wilderness Trips.
Also, we are grateful to have our Alford Lake community that we call ‘family’. Each summer our lives are affected by all of the wonderful campers and staff who surround us – all of us who care deeply, learn so much together and make a difference to others when we return to our communities and our families!