Fernwood Cove is a traditional, all-girls, half-summer sleepaway camp located on picturesque Island Pond in Harrison, Maine, about an hour’s drive from the city of Portland. Campers design their own programs within a unified daily structure, which gives each girl the opportunity to explore as widely or concentrate as strategically as they desire, across a broad array of physically, intellectually, artistically and emotionally-enriching activities and endeavors. Fernwood Cove is where extraordinary girls come to spend an extraordinary summer.
Because each camper is different, choosing activities and pursuing interests that will allow them to make the most of their summer, there isn’t really a “typical” day at Fernwood Cove! We do follow a schedule at camp though, which looks something like this:
|8:30||Assembly in Chick|
|9:00||Bunk Clean-up Time!|
|9:25 – 10:20||FOCUS 1|
|10:30 –11:25||FOCUS 2|
|11:35 –12:30||FOCUS 3|
|1:20 – 2:20||Rest Hour|
|2:25 – 3:20||FOCUS 4|
|3:30 – 4:25||FOCUS 5|
|4:35 – 5:30||FOCUS 6|
|5:30 – 6:20||Shower/Dip|
|7:15 – 8:15||Evening Program|
|8:15 – 8:45||Unstructured Community Time|
|8:45||Call to Quarters|
|9:15-10:30||Lights Out (Varies by Age Group)|
Campers have over 60 “focuses” or activities to choose from across 7 different areas including:
- Athletics & fitness
- Creative arts
- Outdoor adventure
- Performing arts
- Studio arts
- Natural Horsemanship & agriculture
On the first day of camp and once a week thereafter, each camper chooses 10 activities she would like to take, ranking them in order of preference. Campers are given 6 of those activities and these remain consistent for the 5-day activity week.
We do require all campers to take one week of instructional swimming until they have completed 7th grade and are a Level 6 in ARC swimming. Campers who have just completed 5th grade and younger also all take one week of canoeing, and those who have just completed 2nd or 3rd grade take Outdoor Living Skills.
Campers live in simple wooden cabins along a shared path which borders the woods and the waterfront, in a friendly neighborhood configuration.
Most of our cabins house 10 girls and 2 counselors. Several of our younger cabins are larger and hold 10-12 children and 3 or 4 counselors. Each of the two oldest age groups live in one large cabin together.
All of our bunks are electricity-free. We have consciously resisted this 20th century “upgrade” to the cabins in an effort to foster an environment of simple living for our campers. As the sun sets, and natural light gives way to darkness, our campers enjoy talking and playing games together as a bunk family—all by flashlight and lantern.
Our 2nd – 6th grade campers have toilets and sinks in their bunks, but no showers. There are four shower houses for their use. Older campers use two nearby shower and toilet houses called the “Birdbath” and the “Lagoon,” both of which are a short walk from their waterfront cabins.
Virtually everyone at Fernwood Cove wears a uniform: campers wear forest or hunter green on the bottom and white shirts on top; CITs wear maroon bottoms and white shirts; and our staff wears navy blue shorts or pants and white shirts.
Our uniform policy lends itself to the simple, stress-free and holistic atmosphere we strive for at Fernwood Cove. It also takes the guesswork out of packing. (But don’t forget to label all those green shorts!)
At a handful of special events throughout the session, including our weekly Campfires, everyone is welcome to “come as they are,” whether in uniform or not. Additionally, for Banquet on the second to last night of camp, girls “dress up” in white dresses, and campers often bring fun clothes and props for performances or other themed activities.
The importance of the community dining experience at Fernwood Cove can’t be understated. We take our campers’ nourishment—both emotional and physical—seriously, and it shows. Warning: our food can be addictive. Girls frequently report cravings for our broccoli stuffed chicken breast and homemade guacamole throughout the year and return to camp eager to try whatever new offerings our incredible kitchen staff has been working on.
Breakfast and lunch are served family style in “The Feeder,” and a buffet supper is served outdoors (weather permitting). For the first few days of camp, bunks sit together; after that, “theme” dining begins and new groups of campers are assembled based on mystery connections that we make a game out of uncovering.
All of our meals are nutritious and well-balanced and include gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian options. Breakfast consists of a hot entrée such as pancakes or eggs, plus a “breakfast bar” of hot and cold cereal, fresh fruit, and yogurt. For our main meal of the day, lunch, a hot entrée is served, which might be a stir-fry, grilled protein, or pasta, always with a full salad bar. Our informal picnic suppers might feature pizza or a BBQ with a variety of typical cookout side dishes.
A “fruit table” is available all day for campers to grab a piece of fresh fruit and a glass of water.
Campers can receive password protected one-way emails via the parent portal which are printed out and distributed once daily with the regular mail. They also love to send and receive correspondence in the mail and are encouraged to write to friends and family during their rest hour.
Telephone calls can be scheduled after everyone has settled in on the second week of camp. We have found one telephone call per camper to one or both parents per session to be an optimal number.
Our package policy has evolved over the years and we restrict packages to “necessary” items (toiletries, personal supplies and items of clothing, etc.). We have found this to be great for the campers and even better for the environment!
Birthdays are an exception: campers marking this special day are permitted one modest package and a birthday telephone call to her parents. They also get the celebration of a lifetime from their Fernwood Cove family along with our famous cake.
We know how novel it is for some parents to have their daughter away from home: they are always welcome to call or email the directors or unit leaders and check in on a camper. Alternatively, we offer a “kid check request” in the parent portal where parents can ask questions and request an email or call from one of our unit leaders.
Cell phones and other electronics with internet, video, and/or messaging capability (tablets, e-readers, laptops, etc.) are not allowed at camp. Non-networked iPod Shuffles or mp3 players that hold audio exclusively are permitted for listening to music in the bunks.
We ask that campers leave all non-permitted electronic devices at home, but if any device makes its way to camp, it will be stored with our staff for the duration of the session.
Our 200 campers come from a broad array of cities, states and countries. While the majority of campers live on the eastern seaboard in states from Maine to Florida, we have also had or presently have campers from California, Texas and states across the mid-west, as well as about 10% from countries in Asia, Latin America and Europe.
Meeting new friends from all over the world provides a great opportunity for girls to visit one another throughout the school year!
Staff recruitment is an extremely high priority at Fernwood Cove and year after year we are successful in securing the most dedicated and professional team imaginable. Over 100 counselors and other staff join us from over a dozen countries, including the U.S., England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Eastern Europe, among others. We are also fortunate that so many staff return to work at Fernwood Cove for multiple summers.
Most staff members are over 21 years old and all of our counselors have completed one year of college or university. Female counselors live in the bunks with the campers while male counselors and the rest of the staff reside in our “staff village.”
While Fernwood Cove does require staff to arrive with training and relevant work experience, we provide significant training at camp as well. It is important that we ensure that all of our staff are skilled and knowledgeable with respect to our specific facilities.
Your daughter can travel to camp by bus from Port Chester, NY (in Westchester County), Lincoln Center (in Manhattan) or the Boston Suburbs. Campers can also fly into Boston’s Logan Airport or Portland Jetport and will be met at the gate and travel to camp with other campers on a camp bus. A few parents opt to drive their daughter(s) to camp, although we suggest taking the bus as it is more fun for the campers and much more convenient to you.
Fernwood Cove girls can only attend Session 1 or Session 2. This is beneficial for a couple of reasons: campers begin and end their camp time together, which ensures great camp cohesion because no one ever feels as though they are “missing out” if friends remain at camp for longer, and no one ever needs to navigate joining a group of girls that has already been together.
We host several reunions for new and returning campers to be able meet and visit with one another. We also send out new camper lists and age group lists, so campers can connect prior to arriving to camp. Every new camper is also given an older Cove Sister and will be given her name and contact information the spring before camp. Cove sisters help answer any of your daughter’s questions and get her excited about camp.
That’s great news! You can request more information here or simply call us year-round at the camp office (207-583-2381): one of our directors would love to speak with you further about camp and set up a time for you to meet with us if we are in your area. Space permitting, we will then send you an enrollment form to complete and return to us. We look forward to hearing from you!