One of the best things about Camp Medomak is one of the worst things for me personally, that being their cook Andrew. See Andrew is a very shy guy who is in charge of cooking three meals a day for about seventy people. Just thinking about all that cooking causes Andrew a lot of stress, that and also having to possibly receive many compliments from campers in person. To help balance things out Andrew bakes. And he is quite a world-class baker.
I know all this because Russ would get up very early everyday at camp and go up to the farmhouse where the kitchen and dining room are as well as the wifi porch that became Russ’ office. Even at six in the morning Andrew would beat Russ to the farmhouse and begin his day, silently baking.
Food at camp was no pre-made, food service heat and serve stuff. They have a big garden and a cow for milk and get as much sourced locally as possible. Being just twenty minutes from the ocean also gives Andrew a chance to get a lot of good seafood, but the baking, that is obviously his real passion.
Vacation started at our friend Warren’s house where he was generously mindful of my diet. I stayed away from the walnut bread and my own ice cream cone when I was there, then we went to camp. At camp you eat what you are given and if you don’t like it there is always peanut butter and jelly. You can be assured I always liked what was served and also did my best to stay away from peanut butter and jelly.
I would arrive at meals famished from running, well, maybe walking fast, kicking balls, shuffling tiles, throwing balls, paddling boards, making art and playing games. At first I did my best to stay away from Andrew’s baked goods. Although lunch the first day was impossible since he had made up this tuna melt bread where the tuna and cheese were rolled into the center of a homemade wheat bread kind of like a tuna melt Stromboli. One bite and carb heaven came back to me. That night I skipped the cranberry wheat rolls because the roast turkey was so good I was able to withhold, but then came the banana cake. Enter the flour and sugar nirvana I had avoided for all these months.
The next day the leftover turkey on warm fresh focaccia and I was full blown back to eating carbs. Yeah, I ate salads and the many fresh vegetables, but the zucchini and goat cheese flat bread with the hint of corn meal it was worth every calorie. I ended the week at camp with apricot and ginger scones for breakfast.
Three days of post camp vacation in Maine had me still loving carbs. What the hell, I was not about to try and detox while I was sharing one hotel room with a fourteen-year-old girl and did not have access to enough iced tea. At last we are home. I have gone to the Harris Teeter to stock up on all my standard foods and I am about to begin the three days of hell to get off carbs again. At least the ones I did eat at camp were worth every bite since they were loving made by Andrew and did not have any preservatives or crap in them. I pray now that I will not dream about the challah or the whoppie pies he made. Tomorrow the scales will give me the honest truth of the damage. One week a year of that is about all I can take.
There is no happier place on earth than camp. As a kid I loved going to camp at Idlepines in Bow Lake New Hampshire. The great friends, activities that kept you playing outside all day, the singing and skits, the campfire, the food. When I was in college contemplating a real world job my father asked me what my favorite job might be and I said camp counselor. That was not met with much approval. Teaching kids how to canoe or do improv was frowned upon as a life-long pursuit. So my time as a camper ended and sadly I entered the life of adulthood and mortgages and cleaning out the dishwasher.
Fast forward a few decades to being an old mother… Carter was in lower school she did not like to sleep away from home. I understood that being in her own room in her own house was better than anyplace else, but I prayed that she would get over this so she could go to sleep away camp someday. Thank goodness my friend Hannah, mother of Carter’s great friend Campbell, who took it upon herself to get Carter to feel comfortable sleeping at their house. It was a huge gift to us all that Hannah slept on the floor, next to Carter’s bed that first night she spent the night at their house.
Following in her mother’s footsteps Carter went off to sleep away at Camp Cheerio and fell in love with it too. The first year Russ and I drove her up the mountain at Roaring Gap and got a glimpse of the cabins all those feeling of loving camp came rushing back. I remember saying to Russ I wish I could go to camp too.
Secretly Russ began to research how to make my camp dream come true. He searched the net and read many descriptions of camp like places. Lots of things sounded like camp, but they were really camp grounds, no, not for us. After weeks of stealth research he brought me into his investigation to weigh-in on his findings. Camp Medomak, a family camp in Washington Maine seemed like the place for us. Could it possibly be as idyllic as my childhood memories of camp? Could my introverted husband stand to spend what little free time he has at camp with, heaven think, strangers? Could our teenage daughter think being at camp with her parents in anyway favorably compares to her camp? Could of family of sophisticated food choosers now like camp food?
That was five years ago. The economy was not so great. What better time to try a low key vacation, go visit friends in Maine and try Medomak and family camp. We fell for it. We came back again and again. We love the owners, the people who work here and the people who come as campers, the cabins are better than sleep away camp, but the life is just as carefree.
Last year Carter went to Taiwan to live and go to school so we did not come back to camp. I missed it. This summer we only had one week when we all were free to come to camp, but it turned out that week was sold out. I called Dave, the camp director, to tell him if they had a cancelation we desperately wanted to come to camp. Dave said that would not happen because it was the owner’s Holly and George’s big family reunion at camp. I said, “I wish we were in Holly and George’s family.” Dave came back with, maybe you can be. So here we are! Back at camp, in a new family who will be more shocked to meet us than we will be to meet them, with some of our favorite returning counselors and some fun new ones too. I’m off to the lake now to swim and kayak and thank my wonderful husband who makes all my crazy dreams come true again and again.
Lobsta’, lobsta, scallop, scallop, laugh, laugh, what a day. Somedays are perfect. Today was as close as it gets. Russ made it to Clam Cove at 2:30 in the morning so I finally could sleep soundly once I had him safe and sound with us in Maine. We awoke to a big breakfast Warren had made us which we enjoyed at the HoJo’s counter. I had to withhold from the sausage, and zucchini bread because I knew what the day ahead held.
Off to Camden we went to spend two hours sailing on the schooner Surprise. The heat wave did not exist on the water and we talked and laughed as we skimmed by the beautiful shoreline. Before we knew it we were back at the dock. We headed home to to have lunch but stopped at Renys, Maine’s Department Store to get some discount shampoo and lotion and cheep led head lamps for camp. I bought three of them and true to form only two work, exactly what I thought for a $2.99 flash light.
At home I made lobster salad from our leftover lobsters from last night, whoever heard of leftover lobster. Thank goodness Carter decided that eating something she met as alive fifteen minutes before dinner made her dislike eating lobster. Warren made Carter his world famous tuna melt and he had turkey so that left all the lobster salad for me and Russ. The day just kept getting better.
Nothing says vacation like a nap so both Carter and I retired to our rooms to sleep during the heat of the day. We awoke to take a ride in Warren’s model A. Jay, Warren’s son, drove us around while Carter and I sat in rumble seat. Watching me climb up the side of the car and try and wedge myself into the back was not a pretty picture, but the ride was fun.
The big treat of an already wonderful day was a dinner out at Primo, Maine’s best restaurant. They have a huge garden and farm of pigs and chickens to source their ingredients from. We started the meal with goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms something I love but hate to sacrifice my future squash to make from my garden. I had a scallop, shrimp and clam appetizer that was worth every calorie followed by a scallop and Meyer lemon main dish. I had to give one to Russ because he had also wanted to order the same thing, but in the name of trying different dishes he had fish. Of course the scallops were the better choice. It was hard to argue with any of them and they all were worth every bite. If you are ever coming to the mid coast of Maine make a reservation months in advance if you can get one.
Instead of an expensive dessert we stopped by Doremans the best ice cream around. I said I did not want any which we all know is a lie. They have a ginger chip ice cream that is about the most fabulous and unique flavor that only they can make. Russ ordered that even though it was not what he wanted so despite my ice cream refusal I had a good number of bites. Oh vacation. Sometimes it’s worth letting go a tiny bit.
Back on the front porch on Clam Cove the heat wave has broken and I am almost chilly. As soon as I post this blog a board game competition will break out. Warren can’t remember what game we played last time, just that I beat everyone. I’m letting everyone else pick the game tonight. I can play anything and after the wonderful day we have had it does not even matter if I win.
My hands are smelly from picking lobster, shucking corn and downing Maine strawberries. Carter and I arrived at our friend Warren’s house on Clam Cove in Rockport on the hottest day in Maine history. Russ has missed the heat because he is coming in at 3 in the morning. We still saved him a lobster for lunch tomorrow.
I’m writing this at the kitchen table while Warren washes the dishes and Carter is making him a friendship bracelet in Howard Johnson’s colors to match his HoJo room. Having Carter and Warren tell stories about me and what a bad girl I was when I was Carter’s age is probably a bad idea. I don’t know if it is a good for me to let them spend too much time together, but they do have so much fun together. They are already plotting about throwing me off the schooner we are going on the morning.
I love coming to visit Warren and eat at the soda fountain counter of his own personal HoJo’s while listening to Bread coming from the juke box. When you are thirsty you just reach into the Coke cooler and grab yourself a drink. I am thankful that the whole ice cream counter is not stocked with hot fudge and the 28 flavors. Warren and Carter did have strawberry shortcakes. I had the strawberries and a squirt of whipped cream as celebration.
Everything about Maine screams summer to me and with this heat it is feeling like it too. But the weather is going to break and I will certainly be wearing my sweatshirt any day now. Oh to be in Maine, laughing, telling stories and making new memories.