One of the best things you can do for your family is to spend a week in the summer on Sebago Lake in Maine. I guarantee you that you will have the best family vacation you’ve ever experienced, and you will create memories that you will cherish for your entire lifetime. Indeed, I pretty much guarantee that once you visit, you’ll find yourself going back again year after year.
Sebago Lake (also known as “Big Sebago,” and yes there is a “Little Sebago”) is the second largest, and the deepest, lake in Maine. It’s located just a half-hour from Portland, making it a very convenient location to many tourist destinations and activities. It is a very popular spot in the summertime, which means you need to plan in advance to find a camp that suits your needs.
In Maine, a “camp” refers to a cottage or cabin on or near the lake. Accommodations range from the truly rustic to the truly luxurious. Many camps are not “winterized”, meaning they do not posses the construction or the insulation to be inhabited in the winter. Some camps have only the basics – a loft with bunks for sleeping, simple furnishings, and no television or internet. Other camps are really decked out with luxurious bedrooms, gourmet kitchens, television and cable and internet.
I ask you, though, who the heck wants to spend all their time indoors watching TV or on the computer when they have a lake, fireflies, campfires, canoeing, and loons beckoning outside the door?
Let me describe to you the place that my family used to rent each summer. It was nestled among the pine trees a short distance from the water, with a private beach and a float that made a perfect diving platform. A fire pit was a few yards away from the shore, with a hammock, picnic table and charcoal grill nearby. The cabin had a screened-in porch facing the water, with several Adirondack chairs, lounge chairs, and rocking chairs. The kitchen was fairly basic – a refrigerator and a range, with water that was hand-pumped into the sink (the bathrooms had regular faucets, though). There was one bedroom downstairs with a queen bed, another bedroom with bunk beds, and a full attic/loft that was accessed by a pull-down ladder which had several full-sized beds. Living room and dining room furnishings were basic but comfortable. There was no television (and the internet had not yet been invented… God, I’m old). There was a cache of board games and decks of cards, plenty of books and an ancient AM/FM radio.
My grandmother would let me invite a friend along, and we would spend all day every day swimming, feeding the ducks, exploring along the shoreline, reading in the hammock, and playing games. At night we’d have the whole family over for a cookout (lobsters, steamed clams, corn on the cob, potato salad, steaks and hotdogs and burgers…). Then we’d have a fire and toast marshmallows, catch fireflies in Mason jars (and let them go again before we went to bed), and lay back on the grass counting stars while listening to the loons call from the lake.
Sound idyllic? Yes, it certainly was.
Most camps are owned by families and individuals who wish to rent them out for part of the year to supplement their income. Many camp rentals are managed through such services as Jordan Rentals and Kranin Real Estate. Book very early – six months to a year in advance – to ensure that you get the perfect rental. Read the notes on the rental carefully – many places require that you bring your own bedding, linens and towels. Some properties allow pets, and some properties have a private beach while others have a shared or association beach. Most places require a minimum stay of one week, many can be rented for weeks or months. The best camps are right on the waterfront and have moorings, docks, or “floats” (a floating platform anchored some distance from shore – kids can swim to it and spend hours diving off and climbing back up again). Some places have row boats or canoes, jet-skis and motorized boats are available for rental at several locations around the lake. Check out the Sebago Lakes Chamber of Commerce for more information about the lake and surrounding areas.
Do yourself and your family a favor, and don’t miss out on this extraordinary experience.