History of summer camps in Hope

At the same time that many of the coastal towns of Maine were becoming popular vacation spots, children of the wealthy were sent to summer camps· many parts of Maine, to enjoy Maine's healthy climate and a structured program of summer activities.

Beaver Camp for Girls was the first to be established, on the shore Lake Alford, soon after 1910. The girls came to Union by train and trolley and were transported from there to Hope by buckboard wagons. Wagons this type can be seen at the Matthews Museum in Union.

Megunticook Camp for Boys, established on Fernald's Neck near opposite the Hope-Camden town line, was managed by Prof. Walter Cowing of Germantown, Pa. Alford Lake Camp for Girls, opposite Beaver Camp, was operated by Dorothy Blood of Newton Center, Mass.; Alford Lake Camp for Girls is mentioned in 1924. In 1927 Highfields, a camp for girls located on Alford Lake, managed by Florence Marshall, and Hatchet Mountain Camp for Boys on Hobbs Pond, owned and managed by Philip Jones of Rockland, joined the list. Philip Jones was later freshman football coach at the University of Maine.

One more summer camp for girls, Camp Merestead, on Megunticook Lake in Hope, joined the group in 1938. This camp was owned and operated by Mrs. Eduarda Boehm and Miss Anne Townsend of Baltimore and Philadelphia, who had been among the early campers at Beaver Camp, and by Miss Mae Fogg of Boston and Freeport. July 6, 1938 was Open House at Camp Merestead, and a large number took advantage of the opportunity to inspect the attractive buildings which had just been completed.

Hope was a beehive of activity from late June to midAugust. Swimming, sailing and canoeing activities on the ponds, bicycle and hiking groups were a common sight, as well as buses loaded with canoes and camping gear headed for trips as far away as Mount Katahdin. The local boys at Hope Corner organized a ball team and played Phil Jones' boys every week, and found the competition pretty hard to beat, but had a lot of fun anyway.

With this influx of more than 500 people each summer, Hope farmers found a ready market supplying dairy products, eggs, chickens, and all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Herbert Hardy supplied the Megunticook Boys Camp; Everett Hobbs, Hatchet Mountain; Earle Norwood and Frank Grassow, the camps on Alford Lake. Ben Nichols, who ran the large Alford Lake Jersey Farm, supplied milk and cream. Harold Allen and Everett Hobbs supplied Camp Merestead.

(From History of Hope Maine by Anna Simpson Hardy Pages 198-200)

 

The war years and attendant shortages, as well as changing life styles in the 1950s, resulted in difficult years for the boys and girls summer camps.
Phil Jones' Hatchet Mt. Camp became a boys' day camp into the early fifties.
Cottages were still rented to adult summer visitors. W. I. Jones, together with his wife Emma and son Bill ran the Hatchet Mt. Day Camp at their cottage on Hobbs Pond during Bill's college years.

Beaver was closed and the land sold to Viking Lumber Co. The Lodge was taken over by the Knox County Fish and Game Club and became a popular spot for dances to help pay for it. Some of the property was subdivided for cottage lots.

Camp Merestead made it through the war years and for a number of years a very successful women's hockey camp was run after the close of the regular camp season in August. For those two-week sessions coaches and players came from all over the U.S. and even from England. Some were former Merestead campers. With the illness and death of the camp's business manager, Mrs. Eduarda Boehm, the camp was closed and the land donated to the Episcopal Diocese of Maine and renamed Bishopwood.

Highfields on Alford Lake was purchased after the war by Col. Cleo Godere and successfully operated as a boys camp for more than twenty-five years, until his death. The land has been subdivided for house and cottage lots. The new school sets on a small piece of the large area formerly occupied by the camp.

(From History of Hope Maine by Anna Simpson Hardy Pages 229)

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