The Program Director and camp staff carefully plan and orchestrate an action-packed, quality program of activities each day for each age group. Each camper is assigned to a specific group – i.e. Grizzlies, Moose, Beavers, Cubs – and given a variety of choices from which to select his activities for the day. There are at least 4 activity periods a day, and the choices may include…
Outdoor Skills Activities
Since Chief Brewster founded Birch Rock in 1926, we have strived to instill a sense of comfortability and capability being in the woods, away from home, schools and parents. Our outdoor skills activities prepare the boys for our trips and give them confidence in the wilderness. This is what camp is all about!
Bushcraft is our primitive skills activity. Boys learn about working with the resources and tools they have around them. They learn the basics of fire-building and a variety of ways to build a fire, including bow fires, flint & steel and more. As they advance, campers will learn more about axe use and safety and how to build their own latrines in the woods, etc. Bushcraft is about becoming comfortable in the woods and learning to use the resources that Mother Earth provides.
At Campcraft we focus on learning the skills of modern camping; the same skills that many of our trip leaders use when they lead trips. Like Bushcraft, Campcraft will teach fire-building, knife use and axe use but in a more modern format. Boys will learn how to access a campsite, where to put up a tent, how to keep the food away from the animals, where to setup the latrine and more. The boys will learn the basics they will need to prepare themselves for our trips off-campus. The boys who love this program the most will often go on our Maine Wilderness Adventure trip when they reach the age of 14, and many of those campers will try for their Junior Maine Guide certification at age 15 or 16.
Our nature program is designed for the campers to learn how to observe and identify things they see all around them. The boys learn about the trees of Maine and the flora and fauna of the New England region. The Nature building houses a Lake McWain fish tank and a few frog tanks that many of the boys stock and care for themselves. The camp also has an arboretum of trees that the boys learn to identify around camp. The top nature campers culminate their experience by planting their own tree somewhere on campus. Usually this new tree is of a species that currently does not exist on the grounds so future campers will have more trees to learn to identify.
Archery is available to all ages and is extremely popular. The boys learn the terms of both the bow and the arrows. They learn the range commands for safety and how to stand and shoot. They will start by shooting at a 15-yard target and work their way up to shooting at a target 50 yards down range.
This activity is not available to our youngest camper activity group (boys 7-11). The next oldest group (boys 11-13) will be allowed to sign-up for BB-guns and will learn basic rifle safety and all range commands. The two oldest activity groups (Boys ages 13-16) will go off campus to the local rifle range to fire .22 caliber rifles. They will learn gun safety and range commands and then shoot at targets set at a range based on their skill level.
Target Sports: We take our target sports very seriously and parents are required to give permission for our campers to participate in these activities.
Our waterfront activities give the boys a chance to cool off and enjoy the serenity of Lake McWain. Every camper is tested for their swim skills on the first day of activities. The waterfront director will then let our staff know which campers need to be monitored more closely while out on the lake. All watercraft participants wear a PFD when they are out on the lake. Instructional swim is a huge part of our waterfront program and is mandatory daily for all campers.
Canoeing has been at Birch Rock since 1926. In addition to hiking trips, canoe trips are also extremely popular, and campers are required to learn some basic canoe skills before they go out on any canoe adventure. Most boys start out in the bow of the canoe, learning some of the basic strokes and taking commands from the sternman. Once they have the basic strokes down, they learn the sternman position and how to steer a canoe. Identifying parts of the canoe are reviewed early and often. Canoe safety and capsizing and recovery are also an important part of many of the classes.
Swimming is a mandatory activity for campers for one hour every day. Swim classes are taught by Red-Cross trained Water Safety Instructors and their assistants. We take great pride in our campers learning the best swim skills possible and becoming comfortable in the water. Campers will learn how to perfect their strokes, breathing skills, safety and more. Developing endurance is important as it prepares them for any long distance swims they may decide to take on. The boys are tested the first day of activities, then separated into groups based on swim skill level.
Kayaking has been at Birch Rock for the last couple decades. It is a relatively newer activity at camp and is very popular. The camp has run a few kayak trips and any camper going on a kayaking trip must pass a basic kayak skills test. The boys love to glide around the lake in the kayaks and will adventure just about anywhere on the open water. It is always fun to see a loon pop up right next to your kayak when you are out in the middle of the lake! Boys learn many kayak skills, including strokes, parts of the kayak and constant safety review.
Boating is a hugely important skill for any of our campers to learn. Our row boats are used for the long-distance swim program and for general safety and rescue. We love the campers who spend time picking up boating skills because it makes them more well-rounded staff members as they grow into our staff ranks. Parts of the boat and boat safety are learned early on, and as campers develop their skills we teach them how to comfortably and confidently maneuver in the water.
The windy days on the lake are the preferred time to get out and sail! Watching our flying junior sailboats and Lasers race around the lake is always such a majestic scene. Many of the boys start out learning the basics with an instructor in the boat and work their way up to skippering their own craft. Nothing like the wind in your hair as you soar around the lake…
Windsurfing is available to our oldest activity group only (boys 14-16 years old). The reason behind this is that the sails are rather difficult for a smaller boy to pull up out of the water. Our teenagers love to get out and surf the lake, buzzing right past the bigger sailboats. On days with no wind, the campers will take out paddle boards and work on balance.
The Arts programs and designed to inspire creativity and imagination. Our camp is one of the few camps in Maine that offers a library (and a librarian!), and we take reading very seriously. The boys are instructed to read at least 20 minutes every day. In Art and Woodshop, boys can get creative and build or craft whatever their imagination can come up with with instructors there to assist.
Art classes can take the children through many mediums. They learn painting and drawing, shading and patterns, they build puppets and construct bracelets, they make pottery and costumes for Saturday skit night, and more! Some days the instructors will guide them through a specific lesson and other days they get free run of the art room to make whatever comes into their creative minds. We hope every camper goes home with at least one thing they proudly made in Art.
We are so happy to have a library on campus. During library activity period campers can sit quietly and read, play cards, chess, checkers or even a board game. The librarian will sometimes read a story to them or just give them time to chill out after running up and down the camp’s hillside all day. The staff make book recommendations and there are plenty of book subjects to choose from. Come explore our cozy, little library in the woods!
Want to make a bird house, pencil holder, book shelf or even a chair? Come to the woodshop! Boys learn how to draw up a construction plan, cut, saw, drill, sand and stain, etc., all under the watchful eye of an experienced instructor. The camp has had miniature wooden car races and mini-sailing regattas over the years. You just never know what the instructor might have in store for the coming summer!
Our field activities are non-competitive and give our campers a chance to just PLAY. While campers do work on skills specific to each individual sport, like passing, shooting, hitting, spiking, etc., it is more important to us that they learn teamwork and sportsmanship. They also work on developing their endurance and learning to be patient and avoid frustration as they grow and develop more skills. The camp offers shared equipment at all of these activities but feel free to bring your own gear if you think you will be signing up for these activities often.
Our boys learn to hit, throw, and field a ball. No matter what your skill level, we are all there to just have a good time. Baseball can be a frustrating sport to learn for any child struggling with hand-eye coordination. Our counselors work hard to teach patience and sportsmanship. We play on an old hayfield so the ground balls sometimes make crazy hops. We always say, “If you can field a ball at Birch Rock, you can field a ball anywhere.” If you are a baseball player, bring your glove to camp and join us at the diamond!
This is one of the most popular sports at camp, especially with our teenagers. We all have a great time passing, dribbling and shooting. Some days the staff will work specifically on skills development and endurance and other days they will just pick teams and play a game. Other games like “Horse” and “Pig” are thrown in to work specifically on pass accuracy and form.
Lacrosse is a growing sport in America and has been at Birch Rock since the mid-‘80s. We work mostly on basic skills like cradling, throwing, catching, shooting on goal, etc. Many of our campers start out with no background at all in this activity and many go home wanting to play on the school team. If you are an avid lacrosse player, be sure to bring your stick to camp.
This activity is only offered to our three oldest activity groups. The youngest group (boys ages 7-11) will not have this activity offering during sign up. Many boys bring their own bikes but the camp does have bikes to offer campers who do not have a bike on campus. Most of the biking is done on campus grounds and the boys learn skills like bike maintenance, how to ride safely on the bike, jumping, etc. For the more advanced riders, bike trips are offered and excursions off campus on nearby horse trails or local ski mountain trails are done once or twice per session.
At soccer, the boys learn to shoot, pass, dribble, volley, play goalkeeper, etc. This is a high endurance sport, so sometimes staff will lead activity periods with long runs and lots of stretches and work outs. This activity is often taught by one of our international staff members and it is always amazing to see their soccer skills at work.
Tennis is played on a court down by our lodge. It is a very popular activity and the boys will often play on the court during free time as well. Our instructors will work on backhand, forehand, service, etc. There are numerous tennis games to play and the boys are always smiling on our tennis court. If you love tennis, bring your racquet!
Volleyball has been at Birch Rock since 1989. Our boys start out learning how to bump, set, pass and work as a team. As they improve they will work their way towards jumping and spiking, eventually then bringing it all together in game situations.