Posted by: Birch Rock Camp

A little more than thirty-one years ago I first came down the hillside for opening day. There were a total of 29 campers, 2 CITs, and a staff of about 13 in 1989, my first summer. The lodge was a bit smaller, a number of the buildings were a little less stable, and there was much more underbrush. As I moved into Hilton B, I loved that the building had its own bathroom and that the tetherball pole was just out the door. I met my cabin mates and counselor, and my Birch Rock journey began. 

This summer, I arrived two weeks ago to begin my 14-day state quarantine. We expect 23 Leadership Campers, 7 Leadership Counselors in Training, and we have a staff of 16. The lodge is now larger and brighter, the buildings are more stable, and we dragged three logging trucks worth of underbrush out from around campus last week. I moved into Deneault’s Den (where Rat’s Nest once stood) for the summer, and love that it is near the lake and tucked away, but right in the middle of camp. I do miss having my own bathroom, but the walk to the lodge isn’t bad, as long as it isn’t raining. 

My primary responsibility this summer is to co-lead Maine Wilderness Adventure with Erik Joelsson. The trip was created after both Erik and I were campers, so this will be the first time that either of us have ever done this trip. The itinerary has morphed a bit since the trip was started, and this year we will be hiking the 100-mile wilderness, canoeing the Allagash, and spending our final two nights in Lubec for an authentic Down East experience. We have an excited group of 7 boys joining us, and Erik and I have been preparing and planning on this trip since late fall. With our adjusted program for the summer, we will have two weeks at camp with the MWA boys before we begin the trip. During that time, they will work on a few major goals and complete trip prep. They also will have the opportunity to make their own canoe paddle, which they can use to canoe down the Allagash during our trip. 

Since I arrived two weeks ago, I’ve cut brush, hauled brush, carried docks, weed wacked, stained, painted, cleaned, raked, made bread, photographed, jacked a cabin, fixed a table, rebuilt a fire pit, carried boats, carried musical instruments, moved mattresses, felt my age, re-squared a door, scrubbed the walls of Hilton, and practiced rescue scenarios. More importantly than the tasks, are the people with whom I have worked. The staff this summer is incredible. They are hard-working, funny, serious, engaged, electric, stellar, well-trained, efficient, diligent, cross-word obsessed, and knowledgeable of adjectives. This promises to be a summer that will impact all of us, both those of us here and those who are in the greater Birch Rock Community. On campus, we will be working to develop the leadership skills of our future counselors and community leaders. We will also be working to keep you engaged with our community, encouraging you to participate in some of our virtual activities and to communicate with us to let us know what you are doing to Help the Other Fellow around your home. 


– Thomas Joyce