China, celebrating its 200th Bicentenial this year, is a small rural community supporting a quiet pastoral life. It’s a family town, quiet and spread out around the lake, which is seven miles long and slender — with the main basin running from China Village to South China. The other basin is connected by a slender neck near South China and stretches to East Vassalboro, where its outlet leads eventually to the Kennebec River.

China Lake is beautiful, surrounded by sedate homes, seasonal camps and farms. It is used for recreation including swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, water skiing and canoeing in the summer and skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. There are boat ramps at the north end, south end and in East Vassalboro. Paddleboats can be rented at The Landing in China.

The East side of the lake in Vassalboro is not open to swimming in order to maintain the purity of the water supply for Waterville.

An Ice cream shop at The Landing on the north end of China Lake and the China Din-ah on Lakeshore Drive are great places to meet friends and enjoy the fare. There’s a Rite-Aid and Hannaford Supermarket in town. The South China Mini-Mall is home to China Village Chinese Restaurant. On Route 2 there are several shops offering collectables, vintage furniture and antiques.

Thurston Park: Nearly 400 acres of forest, streams, waterfalls and wildlife are free for year-round use for hiking, biking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Thurston Park is a carry-in carry-out park with no toilet facilities. To find the park, follow signs from the Yorktown Road. If you have time and interest, the park is looking for volunteers. Call the town office for more information or visit china.govoffice.com to find maps and photos.
China Forest: Go exploring. The China School invites you to explore the woods and the things the school has built, while asking that you respect the wildlife and keep the forest beautiful for all.

Albert Church Brown Memorial Library: Open Tuesday-Thursday 2-6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. – 12 noon, the library hosts a knitting circle once a week (Tuesdays at 4 p.m.), a place to learn to knit or just hang out with other knitters. Check at the library for the reading group or craft group plans for summer.

China Community Days: August 3-5. Activities and events include a Chicken BBQ, bean supper, food booths, street dance, fireworks over China Lake, fishing derby and scavenger hunt. The children’s area includes a climbing wall, dunk tank, face painting, and more. For more info call the town office on Lakeshore Drive 445-2014 or go to china.govoffice.com

Friends Camp: For 60 years, young people from 7-17 have attended Friends Camp in four age-appropriate sessions. There are rustic cabin bunkhouses holding 7-10 campers and one or two counselors. It is a place to connect with nature and develop community away from TV, video games, cell phones, email and instant messaging. Friends Camp is a Quaker camp which welcomes all faiths as well as no particular faith. The camp offers creative, non-competitive, fun activities in a diverse community that stresses equality, integrity, peace and simplicity. More than just a summer camp, the Friends campus is available for weddings, meetings and special events. The camp is located at 729 Lakeview Drive. For information, visit friendscamp.org

3 Level Farm: A four season farm of 145 acres with vegetables, small fruit, fresh herbs, eggs and a goat dairy, working year round. They sell from the farm, at a store and at farmer’s markets in Augusta, Hallowell and Gardiner. Fresh goat milk and cheese is available at the farm and at market sites. CSA with shares are available for pick-up at the farm. The farm is located at 149 Vassalboro Road in China. Call 445-3276 or visit facebook.com/3levelfarmstore/about/?ref=page_internal

Recreational sports: Information about soccer Pre-k – 6th grade; basketball Pre-k – 6th grade; football, cheering, baseball and softball can be found at china.govoffice.com.

China Lake Conference Center and China Lake Camp: A non-profit, charitable organization owned and governed by the American Baptist Churches of Maine has been serving children, families and churches since 1962. The camp covers 260 acres and borders China Lake. It’s located on the Neck Road in China and has many recreational activities offering indoor and outdoor fun. For information, visit chinalakecamp.org.

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