Camp begins tomorrow!
We are already here on the Farm and can’t wait to see everyone’s smiling faces. To get you through these last few hours, Max Utter, our director this summer, has written a letter to get you ready for our time together.
Greetings From the Farm-
Summer 2018 is finally here! What a year it’s been getting organized for the amazing month ahead. I’ve worked hard to share the process with you along the way and I am forever grateful for the support you’ve all given us the past 11 months. Parents, alumni, staff, campers, friends, thank you. For those of you joining us for the first time this year, I would like to officially welcome you to the Cragged Community! Welcome, welcome, welcome! We can’t wait to meet you in person on Saturday (or on the 14th for those of you coming for the second session)!
We have an amazing staff. Many of the people who will be working and playing with your kids work with kids during the year too! Most of them were Cragged campers themselves once upon a time. We have teachers, pediatricians, a wilderness therapy guide, farmers, graduate students, college students, and even some high school students who all share two things: a love for sharing the outdoors with young people and a love for Cragged Mountain Farm and the space it allows for kids to grow and be their best selves. We’ve all been getting camp ready over the last 2 weeks and now we’re only missing one piece: the kids!
Cragged has been touching the lives of young people (and older people) for over 90 years now. Past staff and campers can attest to the magic that seems to exist here. Throughout the year I heard from various people who were once a part of Cragged wanting to share stories or memories they had of the Freedom summer camp. One man wrote to me saying that he climbed Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the White Mountains, in 1941 as a camper on a Cragged Mountain Farm trip. He said that afterward, at the base of the mountain, the Appalachian Mountain Club Manager sent a picture of them all to the Providence Journal stating that they were the youngest camp group to ever summit Mount Washington and spend the night at the Lakes in the Clouds Hut. Isn’t that so cool? Even in CMF’s earlier days, we were pushing the status quo on what is expected out of our kids. These days Mount Washington is a frequented destination for many of our campers. CMF’s founder Dr. Henry Utter believed in the often underestimated capabilities of young people; to this day our programs focus heavily on this belief. To me, it is the cornerstone of Cragged Mountain Farm. We make a point of showing kids that they have the capacity to do incredible things, both on and off the trail. Without the hindrance, or crutch, of technology we can really emphasize the importance of human connection, the impact words can have on others, and give support not only at Cragged but in everyday life. Most importantly, however, we can focus on fun that doesn’t require screens! We do our best to make all of these things possible. We also recognize the reality is that kids learn and play in their own ways so at the end of the day we hope everyone is growing in the ways that are best for them.
The mission statement, or purpose statement, I sent out to parents states the following: “Cragged Mountain Farm strives to provide backcountry camping experiences in the New England wildernesses that allow kids to learn the skills needed to become responsible, caring, and confident leaders amongst their peers.”
We really do want to provide kids with the tools to become responsible, caring, and confident individuals. We also want to show kids that there is so much the outdoors can offer them during their time at Cragged and beyond. The wildernesses of New England offer the perfect environment to do these things. To us, a lot of it boils down to the power of play and the bonds we forge with the people we share these impactful experiences with.
I am now going on my 18th summer at the farm and, having every role from camper to maintenance and kitchen to camp counselor to staff on the Allagash to trip leader to assistant director and now to leading the camp as the director over the years, I can say that everything about what is to come over the next 4 weeks feels right. Those of you who know me know that I put my whole heart into my work at Cragged. To me, there is no greater place in the entire world and I am very adamant that the Cragged Experience is something every kid should have the chance to be exposed to. I fully believe in the power it has to change lives. Everything I’ve been doing this year has been for the betterment and the evolution of our wonderful summer camp. It was a big year for CMF and I can’t wait for the campers to arrive on Saturday to show everyone just how big it was. I really think it’s going to be a summer to remember.
For those of you arriving tomorrow, we’ll be waiting on the wall ready to help move campers into their cabins and welcome you to Cragged Mountain Farm Summer 2018!
Max Utter, Camp Director