Chop Point for me has always been the place where things come back. Summer after summer, no matter what happens during the year, something drags me back. I listen to stories, I try to find connections, I try to figure out just how exactly people end up at Chop Point, but four years later, I’m still coming up empty. Some say it’s fate but I refuse to believe that it’s entirely coincidental that so many incredible people happen to be in the same place at the same time. No, there’s something here, something that makes sure anybody who needs to be here ends up here at just the right time. Feeling the presence of God has always been difficult for me, but this year I felt it in just about every interaction I had during my time at Chop Point — from crazy sailing adventures to drinking iced coffee with my friends to singing songs during chapel to just sitting on the dock and watching the river. While I was at camp this year I had a conversation with one of my counselors about times our souls felt at peace and of the dozens of stories we both told, the majority of them had one thing in common: they happened at Chop Point. There is undoubtedly something special that happens to you while you drive down the two miles stretch of road that leads here that continually draws us here no matter how long we’re away. Even now that I left, I’m sure I’ll be back soon. I don’t think my story with Chop Point has ended quite yet, but until then my soul will remain at peace knowing that at some point, the universe will figure out a way to bring me back home.
It seems like only yesterday we were recapping the first week of First Session, and yet he we are well into the second week of Second Session. First Session came to a close with the traditional banquet dinner catered by our good friends at Morse and Doak Builders, followed by a bittersweet final campfire and the viewing of the completed First Session video – a digital way for our campers to relive their summer here with us as many times as they wish once they return home. After all the difficult goodbyes the group of kids staying for both sessions enjoyed an afternoon at the Maine Mall while our counseling staff did a few cleanup chores around camp and then tried to grab a couple hours of rest before the first of the Second Session campers started to roll in that evening.
Second Session kicked off much the way that first did – an evening of Get to Know You Games to introduce the new campers to the returners, followed by a newly polished reboot of the counselor skits. A few activities making a triumphant return from summers past have made their way back onto the scene this session as well. Field Sports plays a different sport every day to avoid any possibility of a monotonous schedule – GaGa seems to be the overwhelming crowd favorite during this hour. Variety hour has also made its way back into the mix – an activity that works even harder to defeat monotonous summer schedules. The counselors and campers decide together what games/activities to play on each day. They can occasionally be seen sprinting across camp in a huge pack as they look for a hiding place during the inverted game of Hide and Seek known as Sardines, as well as theatrically attacking each other with plastic spoons during a multi-day game of Assassin. Along with some of camp’s iconic evening activities like Capture the Flag and SkitSync, our staff has been working hard to give the campers a taste of something new not only during their daily schedules, but during the evening plans as well. This lead to the molding of a few brand new activity ideas this session, kicked off first by the wildly successfully Evil Scientist Night. Campers were divided into teams and sent around camp to compete in a wide variety of science-related challenges ranging anywhere from the traditional egg drop to a timed baking soda and vinegar bottle rocket making competition.
We have already had our Second Session Beach Day as well as our Car Wash/Work Day, both of which served again as an excellent day of relaxation away from camp as well as an awesome opportunity for us to provide a bit for somebody else, respectively. We look forward to our next couple of out of camp excursions that we have planned, namely a short hike and chapel service in Camden Maine followed by a final day of fun in Freeport before the session wraps up We’ll check in again soon with an end of session wrap up as we do our best to enjoy the wildly fleeting days we have left together this summer – until next time.
After a brief day of rest for our counselors and staff following the conclusion of community week, everybody is right back in gear and welcoming the first session campers as they make their arrivals. Most of our French and American friends are settled in and already in the swing of daily activities; sailing has once again claimed its usual place as the most popular activity. The Spanish campers arrived last night after some unexpected travel delays and are quickly settling in to camp life and working through the initial struggles that come with beating international jetlag. The first few days of daily activities have been exciting, with tons of new sailors and windsurfers getting their feet wet at the waterfront. The campers are enjoying a number of the same activities from community week along with a few special ones only offered during sessions such as photography and creative writing, both of which have solid groups working through some early projects right now. After the presentation of counselor skits to the first session campers the cabins enjoyed some initial bonding time via Boys Night Out and Girls Night In, with Girls Night Out and Boys Night In. This back-to-back set of evening activities provides each cabin with a unique bonding experience to make specific memories with each other at the beginning of the session – serving as a sort of friendship foundation to build on throughout the summer. Wednesday morning we had our first trip head out of camp, 8 campers and 2 counselors headed to the Allagash for a canoe trip and they will be home on Saturday night. Wednesday night saw camp divided up into teams for Sports Night. Soccer with a 16″ ball makes it fun and challenging for everyone, Ultimate frisbee and beach ball volleyball rounded out the evening. Yesterday we had a bit of sporadic rain during the day, but activities went on unphased. Carrabassett Valley mountain biking trip left after breakfast with 7 campers and 3 staff members. They will be enjoying 3 days of riding the trails in the shadow of Sugarloaf ski area. Thursday night we did Skit-Sync night cabins came up with skits that incorporated a lip sync (as a twist we used the Kids Bop versions of the songs) as well. The boys of Little John and the ladies of Isle au Haut were the favorites of the judges. Tonight, if the weather holds out for us, we head to Pemaquid Point after dinner. We look forward to what lies ahead during the rest of first session here at Chop Point – look out for another update on the way coming sometime in the next few days.
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May 12, 2017
On one June morning in the summer of 2010 I climbed into the back of the Schundler’s SUV to begin what would be the most anxious eight hour journey of my life. Going to camp for the first time as a friend of the Schundler’s meant that I was not only going to an entirely new place for an entirely unprecedented amount of time, but also that I had to uphold the multi-decade legacy that was the Schundler family at Chop Point Camp. Whatever stress this may have caused me for those very uneasy eight hours fell away almost immediately upon arrival. I ran into three counselors during the walk from the car to the lodge for check-in, all of which miraculously knew my name before I had introduced myself. Everybody in the office knew who I was – even nurse Kez seemed to know me before I could get both of my feet into the infirmary to discuss my list of medical ailments. It is safe to say I was suddenly very thankful for that multi-decade legacy that I had spent so many hours worrying about.
After check-in I was shown the way to my cabin where I would be living for the better part of the next month. Here I found an equally shaggy-haired and equally nervous-looking boy putting on a bathing suit. He showed me where the waterfront was and we conquered our swim tests together, and for lack of a better cliché, the rest is history. Every little worry that had been swimming around in my head for the last few weeks began disappearing one by one. The people were genuinely kind, the food was great, the landscape was gorgeous and the activities were enthralling. And yes, even as a text message obsessed teenager, I even became grateful for the three-week departure from technology. It became quickly apparent to me that the lack of access to my cell phone and my computer was in no way a negative aspect of my experience. In fact, I struggle to recall a single instance of missing my phone at all – it was simply not something that I had time to think about. Frisbee became more important than Facebook and evening activities took priority over emails. This, for me, is the only single-sentence descriptor of the Chop Point experience that there is. I challenge anybody that does find themselves at camp this summer or any summer in the future to attempt this task upon the conclusion of their stay – try to fit your entire experience into one sentence; you’ll see what I mean.
The aspect of Chop Point that I love the most is the one that took me the longest to figure out – perhaps because it is something I could only dig into looking back at my years as a camper. It sounds like an annoyingly generic claim you might see on a brochure or something – but there legitimately is one space or another where absolutely anybody can excel at camp. I could run and jump and catch, so Frisbee became my thing. I knew thirteen-year-old kids out there on the Kennebec sailing better than counselors twice their age. I knew girls who were so mind-bogglingly talented at making friendship bracelets that they spent practically all of their free time filling orders for their friends. I knew counselors who were so good at communicating answers to my questions that I would come up with a new one every day just to have another conversation. Camp quickly became, without exaggeration, my favorite place on the planet. One morning during that first summer I can remember coming to this realization while sitting on my rock. I had taken a liking to this rock because it was a bit of a vantage point that overlooked our section of the river and the dining hall – seven years later I have yet to find a view that I like more. Dave found me out there on my rock and came over to sit next to me – I assume to see how I was acclimating to the camp environment. We talked for a few minutes about my lack of homesickness and my justification for loving that rock so much. It was almost immediately apparent to both of us, I think, that I was right where I needed to be.
This past week has consisted of many activities and tearful goodbyes. The last week of camp always flies by and leaves us wondering where the summer went. Monday was a very chill day because most of the campers were on the white water rafting day trip. The campers on camp spent the morning either in the gym or in the dining hall playing different games or making friendship bracelets. After the rafters returned, it was announced that the evening activity was Casino Night! Campers were encouraged to dress nicely and instructed to wait outside the dining hall after dinner. During the activity campers played different card games in the decorated dining hall. It was so much fun to learn different games and play them with friends!
Tuesday was the last day of regular activities. Campers became a little emotional when they realized this was the last time they would sail or play Ultimate Frisbee all together. But their sadness was gone by the end of the day because of the awesome evening activity: Pokemon Night. Because of the Pokemon Go craze, the campers were thrilled. Each cabin came up with a group theme and competed in scavenger hunt-type game around camp. When the campers found a Pokemon station, a camper from each cabin was instructed to throw a Pokeball at a picture of the Pokemon. It was a successful night and all the campers had a blast!
On Wednesday the whole camp spent the afternoon in Freeport. Campers were free to shop to their heart’s content and hang out with friends. I saw many campers eating ice cream or carrying shopping bags filled with souvenirs. That night awards were given out to each camper from different counselors. It made me so happy to see and hear the cheering from kids as each camper went up to accept their award. To conclude the night, the whole camp went roller-skating! By the end, the campers were exhausted and ready for bed.
Thursday was a very chill day. Because of the late night, campers were allowed to sleep in. Campers spent the day hanging out with friends around camp. It was the last day of camp and everyone was trying to soak everything in. That night the dining hall was decorated beautifully for the banquet. All the campers were dressed nicely and many group pictures were taken. Since it was the last night, everyone was a little emotional. For the past three weeks, the whole camp bonded and formed a family. Hopefully campers have made friendships that will last a lifetime. This summer’s verse was 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” It has been such a wonderful summer and it breaks my heart to see it end, but Chop Point will remain and welcome campers with open arms.