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?
- Do I have to participate in all the activities offered at Camp?
- Can you accommodate me if I have special needs?
- What hours are the Camp bar open?
- Can I smoke at Camp?
- Is this a sex 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?
- Summer camp food when I was a kid was always horrible. Are we going to eat franks & beans all week at Camp? What about my dietary restrictions?
- 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, and all gender-identities are welcome. (In recent years, about 55% of Campers identify as male, 40% as female, and 5% or so as non-binary/genderqueer — our swiftest growing demographic.) 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. (In 2023, our Campers actually ranged in age from 21 to 81!) …And yes, we always have a few people who identify as heterosexual at Camp, too. Queer allies are always welcome to join us, as long as they’re comfortable bunking in a cabin with a bunch of LGBTQ+ folx.
Where is ‘Camp’ Camp?
Our (new for 2024!) host camp is located in central Maine between Augusta and Bangor and about 75 miles north of Portland. It is about a 3-hour drive from Boston and a 7-hour drive from New York City. Our complimentary shuttles to Camp will still run from Portland International Jetport and Portland bus and train stations as Portland offers the most economical fares and more choice on flight times.
Please note that we are unable to publicly provide the specific name or location of our host camp for security reasons. This has been our practice since 1997, but it unfortunately feels even more of a necessity to ensure everyone’s safety in our currently fraught political landscape. Driving directions and the on-site mailing address will be provided as part of the Welcome Packets that are distributed to all confirmed/registered Campers & Staff in early August.
Is ‘Camp’ Camp at an actual summer camp?
Yes — and we’re moving to a fabulous, better-equipped facility for 2024, too! Our new host camp is situated on a lake peninsula with over one mile of waterfront and and features air-conditioned cabins and activity areas & buildings surrounded by lots of trees, greenery, and fresh Maine air. We’re excited about our new location, as most folx will find it less rustic than our previous site, and it will allow us to offer new activities like archery and horseback riding, as well.
In addition to the one-mile of waterfront with its featured aqua park, the campus also feature a large dining hall, a variety of athletic fields and courts (volleyball, tennis, basketball, etc.), a large Arts Center with separate areas for a variety of arts & crafts, a climbing wall & ropes course, a new four-lane bowling alley, a pool with three 200′ waterslides, a well-equipped air-conditioned theater that seats 450, and much more! (Please note that 99% of the photos currently here on our website all reflect the summer camp facility that we called home since 1997; however, many of the smiling faces you see in our photos will be the same!)
What are the sleeping accommodations?
The summer camp facility that we lease offers 20 air-conditioned, barracks-style cabins and a limited number of private and semi-private cabins which are available on a first-come/first-served basis for an additional fee. All cabins have electricity, single beds with built-in dresser drawers, and attached bathrooms with individual toilet and shower stalls. Semi-private accommodations feature private sleeping rooms with shared bathrooms. Select private/semi-private cabins can accommodate couples as they feature full-size (double) beds.
The group cabins — each one re-christened for ‘Camp’ Camp with the name of a famous LGBTQ person such as RuPaul, Audre Lorde, Elton John, or Lily Tomlin — are shared by groups of 12-18 Campers, depending on the cabin. (The picture here shows the cabins at our new-for-2024 location.) Most Campers opt for a gendered cabin, but gender-neutral/co-ed options are also available for those who feel more comfortable outside traditional binary options.
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: early risers with early risers, late night folx with late night folx, etc. The cabins are “no frills”, and most will find the communal accommodations plenty comfortable for a week-long stay. The fun & camaraderie of living communally for a week is an integral part of a summer camp experience, and many of our Campers find their cabin mates become their most lasting Camp friends.
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. Our new host camp is approximately an 80 minute drive from Portland. We anticipate being able to provide recommended arrival times in spring of 2024. (The longer travel time to our new site means we need to review our long-standing logistics regarding our complimentary shuttles out to Camp, and we still want everyone to be able to get to Camp, register, and maybe even unpack before our post-Registration schedule begins at 5:00pm.)
We recommend that Campers who are flying in from the Midwest or West Coast arrive the day before Camp begins and secure accommodations near the airport in Portland for Saturday evening in order to make a shuttle that will get you out to Camp before registration is over. 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 the Welcome Packets distributed to all registered Campers & Staff in early August. Parking at our new site 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 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 vans back to the airport will probably still leave around 3:00am, as its inevitable that some Campers will 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, bringing alcohol, non-prescription drugs, and weapons can result in expulsion from Camp. You can read full details on our alcohol and cannabis policies under the What hours are the Camp bar open? question on this page.
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 the Ropes 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.
Can you accommodate me if I have special needs?
‘Camp’ Camp is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to Campers with special needs. To help make your week at Camp safe and enjoyable and to assess what Camp may be able to provide, it is important for you to notify us on your Registration Form of any physical, sensory, health, or mental health condition that may require special treatment. If you have questions about what Camp could reasonably provide and/or the accessibility of facilities, activities, and events during Camp in light of a condition, feel free to reach out to us prior to registering. Simply e-mail us sufficient details of your condition so that we can determine what you might need during the week or help you determine if Camp is the vacation for you. Based on certain current or pre-existing conditions, some activities or events may be unavailable or inaccessible to you.
This said, please keep in mind that conditions at Camp are rustic (unheated cabins, unpaved paths & walkways, etc.) and the facility we lease has a number of limitations inherent to many summer camps (second-floor restrooms accessible by stairs only, showers without grab bars, etc.) Given the reality of our location and facility, ‘Camp’ Camp is unfortunately a difficult, if not impossible, vacation option for those who rely solely upon a wheelchair or scooter for mobility. All Campers with disabilities must be self-sufficient or travel with another Camper who is capable of providing any necessary personal assistance during the week or in the event of an emergency.
While we do have several nurses and EMTs on staff, they are there to attend to the usual summer camp scrapes, bumps, and bruises and to act as on-site first responders in the unlikely event of a serious accident. Local ambulances/EMTs can take a minimum of 20 minutes to respond when called, and the nearest medical facility is a 10-15 minute drive away.
We pride ourselves on offering a unique vacation experience to our Campers that is fun and minimizes safety risks. To that end — though it is rare — we may determine that the level of need you present may be too great to permit your attendance, in which case your registration may be cancelled and your registration fees refunded. Those Campers who fail to accurately disclose details around any current or pre-existing conditions prior to arrival whose needs or conditions are determined to present safety concerns for themselves or others that cannot be reasonably accommodated once they are at Camp may be required to depart early. In such cases, registration fees are non-refundable.
What hours are the Camp bar open?
Beer, wine, and other malt beverages are served at three or four of our Evening Social Events during the week and are included as part of your registration fees. A similar selection of alcoholic beverages is also available for purchase on most evenings from 10:30pm to 12:30am at our Best Time Wine 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 LGBTQ+ community. 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. Recreational cannabis is now legal in Maine, and cannabis use at Camp is governed with similar when/where parameters as alcohol consumption.
In short, if you are looking for a queer 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. If past years are any indication, you won’t be able to miss the Smokers’ Table: 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 queer adults running around together in the woods for a week, so we won’t lie 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.
How does Camp compare to other LGBTQ+ vacations?
Many of us have limited resources when it comes to vacation, so we know that $1975 for a week at ‘Camp’ Camp may come with a bit of sticker shock. Our fees are actually comparable with the cost of a week at most kids’ summer camps, but when you break down that amount and consider all that is included for less than $285 per day, Camp is actually an awesome value for your vacation dollar. (And that’s even before you consider our reduced-fee Staff program!)
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 $3000 or more.
Vacation for a week in a traditional LGBTQ destination like Provincetown, and your lodging alone will cost you at least $1500. Add in meals — even if you “eat cheap” and only spend $50 per day — and you’re already at $1850 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 nearly $3000! 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 still have five more days like this ahead of you.
On top of all this, Camp also comes with a bonus that few other queer 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 group 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 $1975 for your vacation at Camp. About half the people who attend each summer take advantage of our Staff program and pay as little as $475 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 a few select activities such as horseback riding may require a modest fee of $50 or less. Additionally, we have a Camp Store and often have Massage Therapists on staff, both of which involve additional fees. 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, fee-based activities, or that sundry personal item you forgot. Details on how to enroll in the Cashless ‘Camp’ Camp program are included in your Welcome Packet which is 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 Six?)
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 designated areas and refrain from cellphone use throughout the grounds or in their cabin.
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!)
Summer camp food when I was a kid was always horrible. Are we going to eat franks & beans all week at Camp? What about my dietary restrictions?
While the campgrounds and cabins at Camp are indeed like you remember from camp when you were young(er), our food is not. In fact, our chefs make a special effort to make all the food plentiful, healthy, and delicious. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are available at each meal, just be sure to note such menu requests on your registration form so the kitchen staff 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 over two decades, so we know how to take excellent care of 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. Your Rainbow Group Leader is one of the very first people you’ll meet upon your arrival at Camp, 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!