Many people who first hear about ‘Camp’ Camp have similar questions about whether or not Camp is the right gay vacation for them, so we compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions along with our responses. If you have specific or additional questions or concerns that aren’t addressed here – or if our answers only bring up more questions – please e-mail us or call us at 347-453-5257. We are always happy to chat with you about ‘Camp’ Camp!
- What kind of people come to ‘Camp’ Camp?
- Where is Camp?
- Is ‘Camp’ Camp at an actual summer camp?
- What are the sleeping accommodations?
- How do I get to Camp?
- What time is Camp over?
- What should I pack?
- What hours are the Camp bar open?
- Can I smoke at Camp?
- Is this a sex camp?
- Do I have to participate in all the activities offered at Camp?
- How much extra money will I need?
- I’m a gay man, and I don’t really know or hang out with lesbians. Is it really possible to have fun with a bunch of lesbians around all the time?
- I’m a lesbian, and I don’t really know or hang out with gay men. Is it really possible to have fun with a bunch of gay guys around all the time?
- Will I be able to get cell phone and Internet service at Camp?
- The food at summer camp when I was a kid was always horrible. Are we going to eat franks & beans all week at Camp?
- I’m not really very athletic. Will I still have fun at Camp?
- I really love the idea of Camp, but my friends all think it sounds silly – and I can’t convince any of them to come with me. Can I come to Camp by myself?
What kind of people come to ‘Camp’ Camp?
Campers tend to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or “questioning” people who like being active outdoors, enjoy sports, explore their creative side. They also enjoy being around other people – even if they are a little intimidated by meeting lots of strangers. Campers like to meet new people, try new things, and challenge themselves.
Camp is usually attended by 200-250 people, with a male/female ratio that is usually around 55% men and 45% women. (Our goal is always 50/50, however.) Campers come from all over the U.S. and Canada, as well as the occasional Camper from Europe. About 80% of our campers are single, and they range in age from 21 to their 70s, with most in their mid-30s to early 40s.
Where is ’Camp’ Camp?
‘Camp’ Camp is located in southwestern Maine, about 45 miles west of Portland, Maine. It is about a 2.5-hour drive from Boston and a 7-hour drive from New York City. The nearest airport is Portland International Airport in Portland, Maine. The nearest bus and train stations are also in Portland, Maine.
Is ‘Camp’ Camp at an actual summer camp?
‘Camp’ Camp leases a summer camp that caters to teens prior to our arrival. The grounds are quite beautiful. Situated between two lakes, the secluded property features quaint, rustic cabins and camp buildings in a stand of tall pines.
The grounds include a theater, a small weight-training center, five tennis courts, a basketball court, a sand volleyball court, studios for crafts and creative & performing arts, a climbing wall & adventure course, a large sports field and two sand beaches. At the center of the camp is the Main Lodge with two levels of open interior space and a massive stone fireplace where we gather for meals and some evening activities. Click here to download a copy of the Camp Map.
What are the sleeping accommodations?
The summer camp facility that we lease has about 25 cabins of varying sizes. These rustic pine cabins – each one re-christened for ‘Camp’ Camp with the name of a famous GLBT person such as Audre Lord, Greg Louganis, Barney Frank, or Ellen Degeneres – are shared by groups of 6-20 men or women, depending on the size of the cabin. Generally, women bunk with women and men with men, though in 2011 we began offering one “gender-neutral” cabin option for those who wanted a co-ed option. All cabins have bunk beds with foam mattresses and attached bathrooms, most with individual shower stalls. A few cabins are served by a shower house, again with individual shower stalls.
Based on your responses to a few simple questions in the ‘Accommodations’ section of the Camp Registration Form, we do our best to place you in a cabin with other compatible Campers: snorers with snorers, early risers with early risers, etc. While it certainly isn’t the Four Seasons, most Campers find the accommodations plenty comfortable for a week-long stay – and enjoy the fun and camaraderie of living communally for a week.
How do I get to Camp?
Camp is easily accessible by plane, bus or train, as we provide complimentary transportation from the Portland, Maine airport and bus and train stations. You should arrange your travel to arrive into Portland (Maine) International Airport – or the Portland bus or train station – between noon and 3:00pm on the first day of Camp. Camp is approximately a 45-minute drive from Portland, and this will allow you to get to Camp, register, and maybe even unpack before our post-Registration schedule begins at 5:00pm. If you are flying in from the West Coast, this timing may be difficult and you may need arrive the day before and secure accommodations near the airport in Portland for Saturday evening. (In the past, many people have found excellent deals via www.hotels.com or www.priceline.com.)
Depending on everyone’s arrival schedule, our Transportation Manager can often even arrange to pick you at your hotel, though a hotel with free shuttle service to/from the airport is always best in case you need to meet our van at the airport on Sunday for your complimentary transportation to Camp.
You may also drive to Camp. Driving directions are provided in the Pre-Camp Information Packets mailed to all registered Campers and Staff in early August. Parking at Camp is somewhat limited, so our Transportation Manager can often assist in setting up carpools for those Campers driving from the New York City and Boston areas.
Please feel free to e-mail our Transportation Manager for other suggestions and assistance in planning your transportation to Camp.
What time is Camp over?
The last official event of ‘Camp’ Camp is the ‘Camp’ Camp Dance Dance from 9:30pm to 12:30am on Saturday night. So, the last day of ‘Camp’ Camp (Sunday) is pretty much just a travel day. Most Campers plan their flights to leave between 11:00am and 3:00pm on the last day of Camp, but our first van back to the airport traditionally leaves as early as 4:00am, as some West Coast Campers have flights home as early as 6:00am. Camp again provides complimentary return transportation to the Portland Airport or bus and train stations. Most people who are driving leave by noon.
What should I pack?
Pack so that you can go seven days without doing laundry, as there are no laundry facilities at Camp. All dress is casual. (Don’t worry – it’s only Camp!) Late summer temperatures in southern Maine can vary widely, so dressing in layers is most practical. Click here for a downloadable detailed packing list.
Don’t forget your camera, notepad or journal and a pen, and a good book. If you think you might want to do Pottery or Crafts, bring a set of grubby clothes, as you’ll get dirty. Some Campers like to bring fun/funky/flashy outfits, drag, or costumes for the Tea Dance, but if that’s not your thing – well… shorts and a t-shirt are perfect dancing clothes!
Please do not bring large amounts of cash, or valuable watches or jewelry. Additionally, we ask that you do not bring alcohol, non-prescription drugs, or weapons to Camp.
What hours are the Camp bar open?
Well, actually, we don’t have a Camp bar. ‘Camp’ Camp’s founder, Bill Cole, originally conceived of Camp as an alternative to alcohol- and sex-focused bars and other venues – a place where people could enjoy a different kind of environment than is typical in the GLBT community. Don’t worry, though; Camp is not a “dry” vacation. We do serve wine and beer at the Tea Dance and two or three other social events held during the week.
In an effort to maintain Bill’s original vision for Camp – as well as for liability and safety reasons and out of respect for those Campers in recovery – we do ask that everyone attending Camp abide by our official alcohol policy and limit their alcohol consumption to those events where alcohol furnished by Camp is served. We also ask that the alcohol served at these events remain at the event venue. Please: DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL TO CAMP. Non-prescription drugs (except over-the-counter medications) are also prohibited.
In short, if you are looking for a GLBT vacation that has a party atmosphere 24/7, Camp probably isn’t for you. Camp really is the best time ever, but the fun is not focused on alcohol or drugs.
Can I smoke at Camp?
Yes. However, smoking is allowed in one designated area only. The camp buildings and forest surrounding the campgrounds are very dry and flammable by the end of the summer when we are on-site. So, we place several picnic tables in a grassy area near the center of Camp, add some ash receptacles, and this becomes our designated smoking area. You can’t miss it: it’s often gaily decorated (of course!) and there’s usually plenty of laughter and animated conversation, just about any time of the day or night.
The owners of the property and our insurance company require that ALL other areas of the campgrounds remain non-smoking, including the waterfront, cabins, and porches. We require everyone attending Camp to abide by this very important rule!
Is this a sex camp?
No. While we certainly like to think of Camp as being sex-positive – our infirmary has condoms and dental dams available 24/7 – we are definitely not sex-focused. That said, it is a bunch of gay men and women running around together in the woods for a week, so we won’t lie to you and tell you the only activities happening are those found on the Activities Schedule.
Also, if you are looking to commune with nature wearing nothing but your birthday suit all week, ‘Camp’ Camp really isn’t for you, either. Other than a few nighttime skinny dips, we are not a clothing-optional vacation.
Do I have to participate in all the activities offered at Camp?
Absolutely not. You can do as much – or as little – as you want during your week at Camp. However, we have such a wide variety of activities, we often have to tell first-time Campers to slow down a bit or they wear themselves out by the third day of Camp!
While Camp is structured a lot like summer camp was when you were a kid, your attendance is not required at any of the activities or events. However, we’ve learned over the years that certain activities (like our Adventure Course) can make your Camp experience more memorable, so we may strongly recommend you try certain activities or attend certain events. But, in the end, it’s your vacation and you can do whatever you please. So, if you want to spend your week sunning yourself at the waterfront all day and curled up in your bunk with a good book all night, be our guest!
How much extra money will I need?
Your registration fees cover your activities, meals, and lodging, so we don’t recommend bringing large amounts of extra cash to Camp. We occasionally offer some off-site trips or supply-heavy activities that may require additional fees, but we try to keep the fees for such activities at $30 or less. Additionally, we do have a Camp Store and do our best to have a Massage Therapist or two on staff, so you may want to bring some extra money for a swell Camp souvenir (or two!) or if you think you may want to schedule a massage.
Many Campers do take advantage of our “Cashless ‘Camp’ Camp” program which makes it easy for you to leave all your cash at home! You’ll receive a Cashless ‘Camp’ Camp form in your Pre-Camp Information Packet in early August. Just fill in a credit card number and billing address, sign the form, bring it with you to Camp, and turn it in to the Camp Store Manager during Registration on the first day of Camp. Then, you can run a tab for any purchases you make during the week, from massages to Camp clothing and jewelry or that sundry personal item you forgot. It’s easy! And cashless! (You may also enroll in Cashless ‘Camp’ Camp by bringing a blank, signed check made payable to ‘Camp’ Camp with you to Registration to pay your Cashless ‘Camp’ Camp charges from your checking account.)
I’m a gay man, and I don’t really know or hang out with lesbians. Is it really possible to have fun with a bunch of lesbians around all the time?
You might be surprised. We’ve had many a gay man express their surprise at how much fun lesbians can be. (Besides, who else is going to show you how to throw a softball?)
Perhaps the following comment from a previous Camper Evaluation sum it up best:
“As a gay man, I don’t exactly surround myself with lesbians all the time. Not because of any animosity, but I just tend not to hang out in the same social circles. But at Camp, it’s so different. We’re all in it together. After several guys at the Closing Circle mentioned wanting to ‘adopt’ lesbians, two lesbians who I’d spend some time with during the week came up to me at different times that night and said they wanted to adopt ME. And the feeling was mutual. Doesn’t get much better than that…!”
I’m a lesbian, and I don’t really know or hang out with gay men. Is it really possible to have fun with a bunch of gay guys around all the time?
See above. Reverse it. (Besides, who else is going to teach you all the words to the songs from Hairspray?)
Will I be able to get cell phone and Internet service at Camp?
Honestly, we can’t guarantee that you can. Camp is located in a fairly remote area and, depending on your carrier, it can be difficult – if not impossible – to get a signal on your cell phone. Likewise, we do not have any comptuers available for Camper use to access e-mail or the Internet during the week. Just plan to be unplugged, baby! (It’s one of the best parts of Camp…)
Overall, we hope and strive to make Camp a natural and simple environment where the sounds you hear are laughter, the breeze in the trees, and the splashes of happy campers diving into the lake – and where our interactions are more face-to-face than electronic. And many people come to Camp to be technology-free for the week. So, even if you do get a cellphone signal, we do ask that you refrain from cellphone use while on camp grounds or in your cabin. Public phones will be available 24/7 on the porch of the Camp Office & Store (so bring a calling card if you anticipate needing to make phone calls during the week), or you may use your cellphone in the area designated for cell phone use near the Camp Office & Store.
In past years, a few Campers who have brought their laptop computers with them have used the phone lines in the Camp Office to access a dial-up Internet service or have hoped for a wireless connection via a 3G signal from their cellphone or a USB modem from their service provider. Again, we simply ask that such usage happen in the areas designated for cell phone use near the Camp Office & Store.
The food at summer camp when I was a kid was always horrible. Are we going to eat franks & beans all week at Camp?
While the campgrounds and cabins at Camp are indeed like you remember from camp when you were young(er), our food is not. You’ll find no bug juice or Jell-O at ‘Camp’ Camp. Our chef makes a special effort to make all the food plentiful, healthy, and delicious. If you have special dietary requirements, let us know on your registration form; we’ll do our best to take care of you.
We do require a $25 surcharge from those Campers requiring vegan meals during Camp. This is not to be punitive to all you vegans out there but is simply to help offset the somewhat costly task of preparing a limited number of vegan meals, while still offering vegan Campers tasty and attractive meals while at Camp.
I’m not really very athletic. Will I still have fun at Camp?
Definitely! We offer a wide variety of activities, so you’ll find something to interest you. And you aren’t required to participate in any of the activities, so you won’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Many Campers have a great time spending the whole week working on a Stained Glass project. Or you can just spend all day relaxing at the waterfront, chatting with friends, or sitting under a tree reading a book.
In addition, many people find that Camp is the perfect place to step outside their comfort zone and try something new, something they’ve always wanted to try – maybe even something they find a bit scary. For some Campers, that may be picking up a softball; for others, it’s making a piece of pottery or appearing onstage in our annual Talent/No Talent Show. Our activity instructors and the rest of our staff are great at creating a supportive atmosphere that makes it easy for everyone to try something new – and have a great time in the process.
I really love the idea of Camp – but my friends all think it sounds silly and I can’t convince any of them to come with me. Can I come to Camp by myself?
Of course you can! The majority of people who come to Camp do so on their own. We’ve been doing this for a while now, so we know how to take excellent care of our new Campers! In fact, the first day or so of Camp is programmed with first-time Campers in mind and most of what we do then is geared towards helping everyone get to know each other and make friends quickly. Many first-time Campers say one of the most surprising things about Camp is just how welcoming everyone is and how easy it is to make friends.
In addition, about 75% of the people at Camp each year have been to Camp before, so they are all very good at welcoming new folks to Camp. Everyone is also assigned to a Rainbow Group during Registration. Rainbow Groups are little cross-sections of the Camp community: groups of 10-12 new and returning Campers and Staff, men and women of all ages from all over the country, who meet to receive orientation information on the first evening of Camp and then serve as a daily check-in point each morning throughout the week. Rainbow Groups offer an easy way for you to get to know people quickly without the pressure of a large group setting.
So, just leave those unadventurous friends of yours at home. You have over 200 potential new friends waiting for you in Maine!