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 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 does Camp compare to other LGBTQ vacations?
- 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, transgender, genderqueer, or “questioning” people who enjoy being active outdoors, playing sports, and/or exploring their creative side. They also enjoy being around other people – even if they are a little intimidated by meeting lots of strangers – as well as trying new things and challenging themselves.
Camp is usually attended by 200-250 people, with about 60% of Campers identifying as male and 40% as female. (Our goal is always 50/50, however.) Most summers see upwards of 30 states in the U.S. represented by our attendees, and we usually have a few folks from Canada in attendance was a well. In recent years, we have also hosted folks from around the globe, including the U.K., Germany, Mexico, and Australia. About 80% of our Campers are single (or are attending without their spouses/partners), and they range in age from 21 to their 70s, with most in their early- to mid-40s. (And yes, we always have a few people who identify as heterosexual at Camp, too!)
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 Jetport 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 offers about 25 cabins of varying sizes. These rustic pine cabins – each one re-christened for ‘Camp’ Camp with the name of a famous LGBTQ person such as Audre Lord, Greg Louganis, Chaz Bono, RuPaul, or Melissa Etheridge – are shared by groups of 5-20 men or women, depending on the size of the cabin. Generally, women bunk with women and men with men, though one gender-neutral cabin is available for those who prefer a co-ed option. All cabins have electricity, bunk beds with foam mattresses, and attached bathrooms with individual shower stalls.
Based on your responses to a few simple questions on your 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. The cabins are rustic and do vary in age, so the accommodations certainly aren’t the Four Seasons; however, most Campers find the accommodations plenty comfortable for a week-long stay – and enjoy the fun & 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 & train stations. You should arrange your travel to arrive into Portland International Jetport – or the Portland bus or train stations – 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.
Those flying in from the Midwest or West Coast may find this timing may be inconvenient, so 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. A hotel with free shuttle service to/from the airport is most ideal as it will make it easier for you 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 via Information Packets distributed to all registered Campers & 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 tofor other suggestions or if you need assistance in planning your transportation to Camp.
What time is Camp over?
The last official event of the week is our annual ‘Camp’ Camp Dance Dance on Saturday night, so the last Sunday of Camp is strictly a travel/departure day. Most Campers plan their flights to leave between 11:00am and 3:00pm that day, but our first van back to the airport usually leaves around 3:30am, as some Campers have flights departing as early as 6:00am. Camp again provides complimentary return transportation to the Portland Jetport 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.(Remember: it’s just 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.
Many people find they wish to bring a notepad or journal & a pen and a good book. If you plan 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 our some of our annual Evening Social Events like Monday night’s Barn Dance or Thursday afternoon’s Tea Dance, but if that’s not your thing – well… shorts and a t-shirt make perfect dancing clothes!
Cellphones are allowed, but their use is restricted to certain areas. Please do not bring large amounts of cash, or valuable watches or jewelry. Additionally, alcohol, non-prescription drugs, and weapons are not permitted at Camp.
What hours are the Camp bar open?
While complimentary beer & wine is served at three or four of ;our Evening Social Events during the week, a selection of beer & wine is also available for purchase on select evenings from 10:30pm to 12:30am when the Main Lodge becomes The Best Time Wine & Coffee 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 LGBT community. So, 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 require that everyone attending Camp limit their alcohol consumption to those times & events where alcohol furnished by Camp is served. PLEASE DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL TO CAMP. Doing so is grounds for immediate removal from Camp without a refund. Non-prescription drugs (except over-the-counter medications) are also prohibited.
In short, if you are looking for a LGBT vacation that has a party atmosphere 24/7, Camp probably isn’t for you. We mean it when we say Camp is the best time ever, but the fun is not focused on alcohol or drugs.
Can I smoke at Camp?
Smoking is allowed at Camp 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. We do offer a designated smoking area with some ash receptacles in a grassy area near the center of Camp. You can’t miss it: step outside the Main Lodge and listen for the ;sounds of raucous 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, 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 probably isn’t for you, either. We sometimes offer some nighttime skinny dips (weather/water temperatures permitting), but otherwise 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. In fact, 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 and your daily Rainbow Group meetings) can make your Camp experience more memorable, so we may strongly recommend you try certain activities or attend certain events. In the end, though, you’re an adult and it’s your vacation, so you can do whatever you please. Spend your week sunning yourself at the waterfront all day and curled up in your bunk with a good book all night if you’d like… we won’t care at all.
How does Camp compare to other LGBTQ vacations?
Many of us have limited resources when it comes to vacation, so we know that $1675 for a week at ‘Camp’ Camp may come with a bit of sticker shock. But when you break down that amount and consider all that is included for just $239 per day, Camp is a awesome value for your vacation dollar.
Most other adult summer camps – LGBTQ or otherwise – are comparably priced when broken down per day, but the vast majority of them only offer 2-3 day sessions versus our immersive week-long experience. And spending the same on a gay or lesbian cruise might only cover a mid-priced or low-end cabin to “domestic” destinations like Alaska or the Caribbean. Add in any off-ship excursions that usually incur additional fees, and your cruise now costs you $2500 or more.
Vacation for a week in a traditional LGBTQ destination like Provincetown, and your lodging alone will cost you at least $1000. Add in meals – even if you “eat cheap” and only spend $50 per day – and you’re already at $1350 for the week and you haven’t even done anything yet. Add in a kayak trip at $45, a week’s worth of yoga classes at $20 each, some art classes at $650 (plus materials), and a couple of pottery lessons for $220, and your vacation is already costing you over $2400! And that’s before the costs of any evening entertainment.
At ‘Camp’ Camp, you can start your day with a yoga class, then go kayaking, take an art class and a pottery class – and that’s just one day! We also throw in three fresh, delicious restaurant-quality meals that day plus a fun evening social event that night. And you’ve still got 4 or 5 more days like this ahead of you.
On top of all this, Camp also comes with a bonus that few other LGBT vacations can offer that’s nearly impossible to put a price on: you’ll be part of an amazingly warm & welcoming community of LGBTQ people from around the world. Living communally in those rustic cabins and playing, eating, laughing, and dancing with the same 200+ people of all ages and gender identities from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds for a full week – not just a few days – is largely responsible for the deep connections that are such an integral part of the Camp experience.
Of course, it’s possible to pay even less than $1675 for your vacation at Camp. About half the people who attend each summer take advantage of our Staff program and pay as little as $325 for the week, exchanging hours worked during the week for a reduction in their fees. This is our version of a sliding scale which we can often combine with additional assistance from our Campership Fund to make Camp affordable for most people.
How much extra money will I need?
Your registration fees cover your activities, meals, lodging, and transportation to/from Portland, Maine, so most people find they don’t need a large amount of additional funds to enjoy Camp. That said,some of our sightseeing trips or supply-heavy activities may require additional fees. Additionally, we have a Camp Store and usually have Massage Therapists on staff both of which involve additional fees. However, most Campers take advantage of our “Cashless ‘Camp’ Camp” program which allows you to run a tab for any purchases you make during the week, whether it be a massage, souvenirs, classes, or that sundry personal item you forgot. Details on how to enroll in the Cashless ‘Camp’ Camp program are included in the Information Packet distributed to all registered Campers & Staff in early August.
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 sums 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 Dear Evan Hansen?)
Will I be able to get cell phone and internet service at Camp?
Camp is located in a fairly remote area and, depending on your carrier, it may be difficult to get a signal on your cellphone throughout the grounds. Additionally, we 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. Plus, many people come to Camp to be technology-free for the week. Therefore, we do ask that Campers restrict their cellphone usage to the designated areas for cellphone use near the Camp Office & Store and refrain from cellphone throughout the grounds or in their cabin. Public phones are also available 24/7 on the porch of the Camp Office & Store, so you can also bring a calling card if you anticipate needing to make phone calls during the week.
Likewise, we do not provide access to computers or internet during Camp. Those Campers who may need internet access for work commitments have sometimes been able to connect to personal hotspots from their cellphone or a mobile hotspot acquired from their cell service provider. As with cellphones, we require that laptop or tablet usage happen in the areas specifically designated for cellphone or computer use so as not to disturb those Campers who do come to Camp to (literally) unplug for the week. (Actually, you might try it… it’s very liberating!)
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! In fact, our chef makes a special effort to make all the food plentiful, healthy, and delicious, and we are working towards locally-sourcing as much of our menu & ingredients as possible. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are available at each meal, just be sure to note such menu requests on your registration form so Chefs Lyndsey & Louis can plan accordingly. Let us know on your registration form if you have any other special dietary requirements, and we’ll do our best to take care of you.
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. Plus, 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. Some Campers have a great time spending the whole week working on a Stained Glass or Pottery project, or exploring the outdoor activities we offer. 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! Most 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, over 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. During Registration, everyone is assigned to a Rainbow Group which is a like a little cross-section of the Camp community: groups of a dozen or so new and returning Campers & 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. Your Rainbow Group Leader is one of the very first people you’ll meet, and many people find their Rainbow Group offers 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 friends you just haven’t met yet waiting for you in Maine!