MOUNT DESERT — The Acadia Leadership Institute (ALI) at Camp Beech Cliff this year will offer weeklong camps for teens going into eighth through 11th grades.
The camps, billed as Acadia Teen Camps, were “created to cater specifically to the interests, independence and social dynamic of young teens and broaden exploration of Acadia National Park and the great state of Maine.”
“All these camps are designed specifically for teens,” said Alexa Bonsey, communications coordinator for Camp Beech Cliff. “It’s an awesome variety … . It’s not just adventure, it’s targeting the wide scope of teen interest.”
In addition to the individual camps that Camp Beech Cliff offers, there will be weekly training programs at which participants gain experience by leading groups of campers. There will be two separate programs: Leaders-in-Training (LIT), open to campers going into eighth through 10th grade, and Counselors-in-Training (CIT), open to those age 15 and up.
The LIT program will teach teens how to lead sessions in three different categories: arts, boats and sporting, which will change from week to week.
The CIT program will consist of two different weeks: training week, in which program participants will be trained by a senior level counselor to “understand camp philosophies and tricks of the trade,” and apprentice week, during which a participant will “assist senior staff and work up to leading an activity with younger campers.”
The training weeks will be scheduled almost every other week during the season; the apprentice weeks will begin on July 5 and last until the end of the summer.
The LIT programs cost $200 for Hancock County residents or $290 for nonresidents. CIT training sessions cost the same; however, the apprentice weeks will cost $120 for residents and $175 for nonresidents.
There also will be Friday overnights for campers as part of the Acadia Teen Camps. They will occur on July 22 and Aug. 19 and cost $45.
The first camps began on Monday with a weeklong training session on tree climbing and an LIT session in arts.
Camps during the week of June 27 will include a body art design course for teens, a camp for teens to explore the hiking trails of the park, an LIT session in boating and the first CIT training session.
There will be no camp held on Monday, July 4. For July 5-8, campers can choose to take a course on taking photos with an iPhone in the park.
There will be a self-defense course for young women going into grades seven-10 during the week of July 11-15. During that week, there also will be a rock climbing course in Acadia and an LIT through the arts course and a CIT training week open to campers going into seventh-10th grade.
The following week, July 18-22, there will be the Jr. Firefight Academy, at which “members of Mount Desert, Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor and Tremont Fire Department crews will train participants in basic firefighting techniques and skills” with a forest fire fighting demo from park rangers.
There also will be a camp at which participants will do different activities at different places on Mount Desert Island, such as sea kayaking, rock climbing, biking, hiking, sailing and swimming. An LIT through boating course also will run that week.
Three camps will be offered the week of July 25-29. They include a wilderness survival session as part of the Junior Maine Guide (JMG) program, which is a “comprehensive, well-rounded outdoor curriculum for young people developed in cooperation with Maine Summer Camps and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.” There also will be a whitewater rafting camp done on the Kennebec River and a course on dog sledding. The LIT session that week will be sports, and there will be a CIT training course. The dog sledding and JMG course are open to kids going into seventh through 11th grades.
From Aug. 1-5 campers at Camp Beech Cliff will be able to take four-person hulls and learn about rowing on Echo Lake and spend time on the seaside cliffs of Acadia to learn about the basics of rock climbing. There also will be an LIT in the arts session.
The following week, Aug. 8-12, campers going into grades eight-10 can learn from Kate Meyer of the Maine Writing Project on the art of fiction writing, kayak on the seas surrounding MDI and gain experience in an LIT session on boating or a CIT training session.
The last week of Acadia Teen Camps, Aug. 15-19, will be mostly camps repeated from earlier in the season. There will be another whitewater rafting session on the Kennebec and another JMG: Wilderness Survival course, along with a course in robotics, in which campers will “be challenged creatively to design, build, program and … battle their robots.” The robotics course will be open to grades six-11. In both this week and the following week, Aug. 22-26, there will be LIT courses in sports.
Camp Beech Cliff Executive Director Debra Deal said she’s excited for the impact the teen camps will have on the camp and the community.
“The whole teen program is really significant to us,” Deal said. “Nobody else is doing this, and we think it’s an important piece of what needs to be offered in the community.
Cost for the camps range from $250-$400 for Hancock County residents and $350-$500 for nonresidents.