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 session, I had the wonderful privilege to go on the Quebec City trip with a couple of other campers. Despite our early departure time (7:00 am on Wednesday, July 20) we were all so excited and eager to see what adventures lay ahead. The five-hour car ride consisted of napping, card games, reading and gazing at the changing scenery as we drove on. Because of the stops for lunch and gas, we arrived in Quebec City around 3:00 pm; everyone was looking forward to spend time in the old city. The city was beautiful and the townspeople were very welcoming. Many tourist-y shops were nestled on either side of the road, with postcards and plush mooses peeking out from the windows. We spent most of the evening strolling through the town, browsing in the shops and gazing in awe at the Chateau Frontenac. After dinner, we headed towards the meeting place of the popular Ghost Tour. When we reached our destination, a man dressed in old-fashioned clothes greeted us. Our tour guide led us all through the old city and spun us tales of ghosts who supposedly still haunt Quebec today. The guide was a wonderful storyteller, but it was obvious that most of his stories were only legends. By the end of the night, we were all exhausted and ready for bed.
The next day (July 21) was spent in the old city as well. Many campers hit the gift shops, searching for souvenirs and gifts for their families. We walked all day and took in the gorgeous scenery and searched for the best gelato place. It was a successful day and everyone wished to stay longer. July 22nd was our last day in Quebec. Instead of spending the day in the city, we decided to spend the morning at Montmorency Falls. The waterfall was breathtaking! As we walked across the bridge overlooking the falls, I could hear the rushing water and saw the other campers taking pictures, hoping to capture each memory. To conclude the trip, we stopped at St. Anne’s Cathedral and listened to mass. The architecture and stained glass windows were so beautiful. It was a perfect way to end or trip. The Quebec trip was unforgettable and such a privilege. I encourage everyone to sign up for this trip when they come to Chop Point!
The first week of second session is complete! I cannot believe how fast this summer is flying by! The past week has been non-stop activity and fun. Wednesday night’s evening activity was sports night! After dinner, wearing their team colors, the campers were ready for the games to begin. Everyone had a blast playing big ball soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, gaga, beach ball volleyball and knock out. By the time the night was over everyone was exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep.
Thursday’s evening activity was water night. After dinner, the campers prepared themselves for the water-filled games and chaos to ensue. There were many screams of frustration and shouts of victory during the water balloon toss. Soon the campers were soaked and ready for the final activity, which is a water night classic: the water slide! The slide consisted of a huge tarp with lots of soapy water. As a tradition the slide began with the Gauntlet, which is when campers are allowed to pelt the counselors with water balloons as they slide down the slide. Then the campers were able to slide down as many times as they wanted.
On Friday, dinner was served early because the whole camp spent the evening on Pemaquid Point, a rocky coast with a lighthouse in Maine. It was a great way for friends to spend time together outside of camp. Campers were free to walk on the rocks and soak in their beautiful surroundings. Many kids brought their cameras to take photos. After the photo shoots and explorations were over, a chapel service was held and counselor gave a sermon. It was such a wonderful way to end the day and the first week of second session.
Second session has officially begun! It was sad to say goodbye to our first session campers, but everyone is so excited to see what the new session brings! The French campers arrived Friday night and the rest trickled in all day Saturday. Old friends were reunited and new campers were welcomed by their cabin-mates. Once the campers were settled, the fun began. Saturday’s evening activity was “Get-To-Know-You Games.” These games help campers “get to know” each other. Many games consist of the campers mingling and learning each others names. It was a great night and everyone got to meet each other!
This morning was stormy so we had our traditional “Wacky Olympics” indoors. During this classic event, the cabins compete in many different games such as wheelbarrow races and sharks and minnows. The campers are also required to wear their wackiest outfits! I saw many hilarious costumes. During the events, campers were called by cabin to sign up for their daily activities such as sailing, field sports, jogging, arts and crafts, and photography. There are so many awesome activities that it’s so hard to choose! After everyone signed up for four activities, the 2k16 Wacky Olympics came to a close.
Campers were still able to attend the activities they signed up for that afternoon. I saw many people enjoying the waterfront and up in the arts and crafts room. Tonight’s evening activity was counselor skits: everyone’s favorite! This session’s skits were hilarious, it was a perfect way to end the first official day of second session!
The first session has flown by and we are all feeling a bit melancholy that it is almost over. Nevertheless, the last few days have been filled with activities. Trips such as the St Croix canoe, sailing and white water rafting trip have gone and returned safely. The rain on Saturday and Sunday caused parts of the schedule to change, but the campers still had a great time. On Sunday, as the rain poured, campers had the choice to do various activities such as board games in the dining hall and basketball in the gym. I spent my morning in the dining hall. The campers who were gaming in the dining hall were sipping out of mugs full of hot cocoa and tea. There was a lot of laughter and screams of frustration from the kids who were playing the wildly popular game: Resistance. Sunday’s evening activity was casino night. Many had never experienced this evening activity before so we were all excited to see what it was like. After dinner, wearing fancy clothes, the whole camp gathered in the dining hall. The dining hall was decorated with lights and there were tables set up for various card games. It was a great night, campers were able to learn how to play popular card games and hang out with friends! However, the night was cut short to announce that is was also dodge ball night! The shouts of excitement nearly shook the dining hall. Soon, everyone was at the gym preparing for the chaos that was about to ensue. With the lights dimmed and music blaring, dodge ball night had begun. We played about four rounds and everyone had a blast. Even when people were out of the game, the campers still had fun. Everyone was dancing and singing along with the music while avoiding getting hit by the balls whizzing by. By the end of the night, the campers were ready for a good night’s sleep.
On Monday, the campers could sign up for different activities rather than going to their regular daily activities. It was a great way for campers to have the opportunity to experience everything at Chop Point. It was announced at lunch the evening activity was Halloween night! The campers were instructed to come to dinner wearing all black and running shoes. After dinner, the campers gathered on the lawn outside the dining hall. Various games and activities such as watermelon carving, face painting, and doughnut eating contests had been set up on the lawn and the campers cycled through all of them. To end the festivities, the campers were led into the “haunted” woods. While the campers walked in the woods, counselors and staff jumped out from behind trees dressed in scary costumes. It was very spooky and thrilling!
On Tuesday, after breakfast, the camp spent the day in Camden, a small town on the coast of Maine. Our first stop was Maiden cliffs. Everyone hiked to the top and had chapel. The message was that some have an image of God being like a police officer: he is waiting for you to sin, just so he can punish you. But in reality, God loves us and desires to have a relationship with us. The talk encouraged everyone to get to know God more and spend time with him. After chapel, everyone hiked down and spent the rest of the day in the town. After the campers returned to camp, it was time for the evening activity: Talent Night! What a show it was! It was so awesome to see an array of incredible talents. The whole camp listened to beautiful voices, watched funny skits and marveled at one camper who solved an entire rubix cube with one hand! It truly was a night to remember.
Wednesday was another day of off-camp fun. The whole day was spent in Freeport, where campers could shop and hang out with friends to their heart’s content. That night awards were given to each camper by counselors. After awards, it was time for the traditional roller skating! Everyone had a blast and was exhausted by the end of the night. It breaks my heart that this session is nearly over! I have loved getting to know everyone these past three weeks, but I am excited to see what the next session brings!
The last few days have been jam-packed with activities. The Boston trips, the Kennebec canoeing trip and the White Mountains hiking trip left and returned safely. (Check our trip videos here: https://www.facebook.com/choppointcamp/) The campers are getting into the swing of things and I see smiling faces everywhere I go.
Wednesday afternoon was very rainy and stormy, but it didn’t stop us from having fun. While the thunder rumbled and the rain poured, campers played board games in the dining hall. By dinner, the sky was clear and everyone was eager for the evening activity: Sports night! After dinner, the whole camp gathered in the gym sporting their team colors. The night was filled with games of Ultimate Frisbee, Handball and one intense round of dodge ball.
Thursday night was definitely a night to remember. At breakfast, it was announced that the evening activity was Lip Synch night. Everyone was thrilled and each cabin picked a musical theater song to preform. Lip Synch night has always been one of my favorite nights. I always loved preparing it with my cabin. We were always so motivated to make it the best of our abilities. The campers did a fantastic job and put on an awesome show. Some people said that it was the greatest Lip Synch night they had ever seen. The cabins of Sebago and Manana were the overall winners, but it was a tough call, everyone’s performance was great. This past week has been so awesome! We have had so much fun and cannot wait to see what the rest of this session has in store!
Dear Chop Pointers,
It is so hard to believe that we are at the point to write the year 2016. I can’t believe it has been
five months since the last camper departed for home from the 2015 summer. Maybe it is true that times flies as you get older.
It was a very warm December and we had no ice on the river so……on Christmas David and a friend jumped in the Kennebec. I did not say they took a swim in the river as there were too many, “That was a stupid idea” comments to count for swimming. There was literally no ice. Winter has finally arrived so I don’t think there will be any jumping in considered for the next few months. We have little snow cover on the ground right now, last year at this time we where buried.
Speaking of all the years of Chop Point!!! This coming summer of 2016 Chop Point will celebrate 50 years of camping. It is very hard for me to believe that I have been here for each and every one of them. God has blessed me with enough remaining brain power to keep going for perhaps another year or two.
David is in the mist of hiring the staff for the coming summer. We are hoping for a nice group to return from last year. Last year’s counselors were some of the best ever.
As this letter will go out to all of our campers from last year I want to let you know that we have accepted all the French campers we can accommodate for the second session for both guys and gals. We have only a very few spots remaining for French speakers in the first session. So my French friends if you have any interest in returning to Chop Point please keep this information in mind and do not delay much longer in enrolling for the coming season first session.
We have been working on the gym here at Chop Point. Hopefully by summer we will have a complete weight room with wonderful exercise equipment. We have installed a second floor in the unfinished space of the gym and will soon (hopefully) be installing a lift ,steel stairways and walls. We have been doing a lot of the work ourselves to save some funding.
Below is a link to the 2016 Chop Point Camper application. We are extending the Early Bird Special to January 31, 2016. That means you can save a few dollars if you enroll by that deadline. The reduced price for one session would be $1,850. And for the full season the fee would be $3,300. Sign up today.
Hope to hear from you soon.