Are you getting ready to go to camp? Many Mainers have camps where they spend lots of time in the summer and fall. You may have noticed, in this newspaper’s obituaries, that many of the deceased loved spending time at camp.

Erinne Magee’s book “This Is Camp” took me to our camp with every poem and story. Even if you don’t have a camp, you will enjoy this book. But if you do have a camp, as you read Erinne’s poems and stories, you will enjoy remembering all of your own wonderful camp experiences.

Our camp is on the edge of Baxter State Park, and we spent most of the summer there when our kids were growing up. Now our kids are taking our grandkids there, and last August our 3- and 5-year-old granddaughters climbed their first mountain. Our son Josh said he kept the 3-year-old climbing by feeding her chocolates all the way up the mountain. I told Josh that would have worked for me too!

Time at camp is so relaxing. We fished, swam, hiked, biked and kayaked, harvested wild mushrooms and berries, explored Baxter, climbed mountains, played games, read books, ate fabulous meals, and spent time with family and friends. We even celebrated my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary there. I have photos of our kids on the lawn, surrounded by deer and moose. And we enjoyed all the wild animals in our yard, from foxes to rabbits.

I loved it that Erinne provided a bunch of blank pages at the end of the book and encouraged readers to write their own camp stories. Of course, I’ve been doing that for 40 years. And every day we were at camp, we’d write in our journal about the things we did that day. That journal is so much fun to read now. So I hope you will write your own camp stories at the end of this book.

I almost felt, as I read this book, that Erinne had been with us at our camp, as she wrote about everything from lawn games to the night sky, and enjoying the fire pit and s’mores to how everything tastes better at camp.

I don’t have the space to share all of my favorite poems and stories in this book, but it is amazing that she captured everything that is special about camp. Here’s one example:

Camp never leaves you

not in the winter

not if you move away

not if you become busy

or homebound

or ill –

it’s presence isn’t just in our hearts –

it’s everywhere

bringing a sense of calm

whether we are physically there

or not.

I think that is so so true.

OK, I know I can’t print the entire book here, but let me finish with this, which is particularly important right now:

At camp something good

is always around the corner

at least, that’s how it feels.

What if we took this notion

and made it our way

of thinking and feeling

whether we were at camp

Or not?

The homes of lots of Mainers feel like camp, because many of us live in the wild kingdom. In our yard in Mount Vernon we have turkeys, a porcupine, two woodchucks, hundreds of birds, and more.

One night a few weeks ago, a bear tore down and smashed our bird feeders. My wife Linda quickly replaced them, and now she brings in the feeders every night. If you have bird feeders, I recommend bringing them in at night, because Maine has lots of bears.

And if you’re headed to camp sometime soon, have fun!


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