Twenty Years – An Extraordinary Story of GrowthPosted by Alicia Theriault on September 25, 2017
Each summer Fernwood Cove girls return home, return to a place that feels like it’s been there forever. The enthusiasm that builds during the drive down Island Pond Road is a unique feeling. As they drive over the brook and come around the final turn in the road they know they’re home. The sense of returning home, the excitement for what’s familiar and the excitement for the new adventures to come, is something that’s only felt at camp. It’s hard to understand how spending three and a half weeks in a little-known part of Maine can create such excitement. What’s even harder to imagine is that not too long ago Fernwood Cove was a new idea, an unknown in the world of Maine Summer Camps. Twenty years later we celebrate our extraordinary story of growth.
The vision of Fernwood Cove was born out of a shift in the needs and desires of camp families. The founders of Fernwood Cove recognized this shift and sought to create a half-season version of the traditional girls’ camp programs Maine is well known for. In 1998 a team of longtime camp professionals began the search for a camp property. Fernwood Cove Owner and Director, Jim Gill, was a part of the team that finally found a home for what would become Fernwood Cove. In the fall of 1998 the property that once was home to Camp Chickawah was purchased and the work to update the dormant property began immediately. Buildings were repaired, the remaining blue and gray of Chickawah was transformed to a crisp forest green and white. And in June 1999 the first Fernwood Cove girls enjoyed Maine’s first-ever half-season, all girls’ camp. In June 1999 the Fernwood Cove family was born.
Aged In Tradition
New England was the birthplace of summer camping in the late 1800’s. Developed as a respite away from life in the city, boys and girls made their way to the woods of Maine and surrounding states each summer. Since the early days of summer camps developing skills and fostering values have been a primary focus. These elements of camp soon became the traditions that parents sought for their children to experience. Maine has been home to generations of summer campers at its 100+ camps throughout the state. Each offering its own way of life. Each creating a magical experience that campers long for throughout the school year.
As we celebrate twenty years we know Fernwood Cove is still quite young. Modeled after century-old camps, Fernwood Cove is aged in tradition. These founding traditions and values provide a platform for a community that supports the growth and development of today’s girls. While life has changed significantly since the dawn of camps over 100 years ago, one thing remains the same. Fernwood Cove is a respite from the societal pressures that surround today’s youth. Girls from around the globe return to Fernwood Cove each summer to disconnect from the outside world. They return to a world where they can truly connect with others. A world where they gain new skills while learning about themselves. And in the end they return home with a better sense of self and a renewed spirit.
Fernwood Cove Has Flourished
After months of work and preparation Fernwood Cove’s first summer was a single session to less than fifty girls. The oldest campers were 7th graders. And the bunkline started with Puffin. Fernwood Cove welcomed two sessions of girls for the first time in 2000. In fact Associate Director, Caroline, was one of those girls! In 2002 Associate Director Alicia joined Fernwood Cove as a canoeing counselor and a 7th grade bunk mom. An increase in the size of the Fernwood Cove community brought expansion and upgraded facilities. When Jim & Beigette purchased camp in 2004 they focused on investment in all aspects of camp. This still rings true today. In the fifteen years that Jim and Beigette have owned camp Fernwood Cove has grown exponentially. We have seen the addition of ten buildings, four new activity options, and a state-of-the art ropes course. Hence it’s fair to say Fernwood Cove has flourished under their leadership.
The investment in camp hasn’t focused solely on infrastructure. The development of the CIT Program which has evolved to our new Teen Leadership Program focuses on the development of girls beyond their camper years. Additionally the evolution of programs like Natural Horsemanship and River Kayaking provide campers the opportunity to challenge themselves in new and different ways. The addition of two solar panel arrays and the creation of the Day of Service reinforce our values of respect for the outdoors and community. The investment at Fernwood Cove is all-encompassing. And you can see the benefits of those investments in the faces of each and every Fernwood Cove girl.
An Extraordinary Twenty Years
As we enter into our twenty year celebration we have an enormous sense of pride. Not in what Fernwood Cove has accomplished as a business. Rather in what it has accomplished in our girls. For twenty years Fernwood Cove has helped girls gain confidence and self-respect. We have helped girls learn who they are and who they want to be come. And we have instill the values to help them become those people. Fernwood Cove girls are athletes and leaders. They are activists and entertainers. Fernwood Cove girls are helping to make the world a better place. In a short twenty years Fernwood Cove has helped a generation of girls become the best versions of themselves.
It has truly been an extraordinary twenty years of growth, for Fernwood Cove and the entire camp community. We are proud to celebrate all that we have accomplished in that time. And we look forward to continuing to positively impact the lives of girls for many years to come!