Friday, May 27, 2016

New sustainability camp, one of the many unique offerings at Slovenski Camps in Raymond - By Elizabeth Richards

Tucked away on a peninsula that juts out into Panther Pond is a hidden treasure. Though the Lakes Region has no shortage of overnight summer camps for kids, Slovenki Camps offers unique programs and, unlike many others, more than 50 percent of the campers come from within the State of Maine.
Photo by Brian Beard
The camp, located on Betty’s Neck, has a waterfront on a mile of shoreline, a vast playing field, trails and plenty of opportunities for exploring and enjoying the Maine woods. Camps run in one-week sessions, allowing for flexibility to meet the needs of all families. Typical enrollment is between 60 and 120 campers each week. 

This year marks Slovenski Camps seventh year in operation, but a children’s camp has been run on the site since 1920. Owner/director Peter Slovenski has over 25 years of experience in summer camps. He is the founder of the Brunswick Day Camp program and co-founder of the Dick Fosbury Track Camp at Bowdoin, where is a track coach. 

Slovenski Camps is a family endeavor. Two of Peter’s children are educators who work summers at the camp, and his brother, an athletic director during the school year, is the waterfront director.
“A lot of the leadership is Slovenski family members who are working in education and have the summers to be working in camps,” said Slovenski. The camp employs a staff of 40 high school and college students as junior counselors and counselors. 

The education background of the leadership team is apparent in the structure and content of the programs offered at Slovenski Camps. Each camp week has a variety of specialty options to choose from – including A cappella, robotics, SAT prep, cross country, and dodgeball, among others. 

Photo by Brian Beard
These specialties were chosen based on interests Slovenski saw emerge in the Brunswick Day Camps and the expertise of their camp leaders. “We noticed that dodge ball is very popular, and we’re good at supervising dodge ball,” he said. “We love music and we’ve always had a lot of singing, dancing and music in our camp programs,” he added. 

This year, a Sustainability Camp is being offered for the first time. “Part of what we do at the camps is to keep the facility in harmony with the setting and environment of the Panther Pond shorefront,” Slovenski said. This includes projects like planting native flowers, putting down mulch, and building an anti-erosion wall. 

“As we do these things, the campers come by and they’re very interested in what we’re doing and often interested in helping, so we started to think of how it would be a good educational experience for campers to be here for a week learning about the Maine woods,” Slovenki said. 

Programming will include learning how to prevent erosion, buying and eating local food, identifying trees and plant species, and education on invasive species and how to combat these. 

The camp day is structured in blocks that provide a nice balance of scheduled activities and time for exploration and personal choice. The morning begins with a dip in Panther Pond and all campers meet for breakfast before breaking off into their first specialty period. Campers have free time before lunch, then an hour of reading followed by more free time before the afternoon specialty period.
After dinner, the whole camp gathers for field games and then a campfire, which features music, dance and limbo contests, and thoughts for the day. 

In addition to the wide variety of activities, being at camp allows children to experience the Maine woods and native wildlife, including geese, loons, porcupines, and a bald eagle that lives right off the shore. 

“We like to point out that summer camp is a great antidote to nature deficit disorder,” Slovenski said. “Maine families have this great opportunity to attend camps in Maine where there is a wonderful educational enrichment experience that is affordable.” 

Slovenski said they keep their costs down by offering experiences that don’t require a lot of expensive equipment. The cost of one week of camp is $595 to $695, varying due to staffing required for the program. 

Slovenski Camps is currently running a local special for readers in The Windham Eagle circulation area. “We appreciate the great support that the greater Windham community gives to our camp business,” said Slovenski. “It might be helpful to some families to use a camp session for day care, but we also want local children to have the kind of amazing Maine summer camp experience that so many campers come from Boston and New York to have in Raymond.” With a coupon found in the paper, there is a $100 discount available in the weeks beginning on June 2, August 7 or August 14th.
For more information or to register, visit

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