Friday, May 17, 2024

Nonprofit Spotlight: Gander Brook Christian Camp

A beautiful camp in Raymond exists where children can experience adventure and what life was like decades ago, in a positive, safe, and encouraging setting. Gander Brook Christian Camp provides kids 8 to 18 with a rustic camping experience where they can make lifelong friendships, strengthen their faith and simply to enjoy what it is like to be a child.

Owned and operated by the Churches of Christ in New England, Gander Brook Christian Camp is located at the corner of Ledge Hill Road and North Raymond Road and sits on 222 acres as well as additional waterfront property on Raymond Pond. Sessions are overnight and conducted weekly, running from the last week of June through the first week of August.

The camp is non-denominational, open to all children, and Gander Brook Christian Camp can accommodate up to 120 campers per session. Campers bunk in cabins with kids their own age for their weeklong stay and their daily schedule includes, meals, Bible classes, earning merit badges such as outdoor cooking, archery, ropes course, tie dyeing, sign language and more, afternoon sports and swimming/kayaking, cabin challenge games, evening activities such as skit nights, Crazy Olympics, scavenger hunts, nature classes, bonfires, and cookouts.

Steve Mezzapelle of Gander Brook Christian Camp first came to the camp at age 8 and attended every year until he was 18 and even returned as a camp counselor for several summers when he was in college and is currently on the camp Board of Directors.

“It made such a huge impact on my life,” he said. “This is a hidden gem nobody knows about. Gander Brook is the reason why I fell in love with Maine and the reason I wanted to move here. It had that great of a positive impact on my life.”

The camp has been operating in Raymond since 1959 and is guided by a Board of Directors of 17 people from around New England. It is staffed by two directors, a staff of 16 to 20 camp counselors and an activities director. Volunteers staff the kitchen, the camp canteen and camp laundry, and there are also merit badge instructors, nurses, and Bible instructors. Camp counselors change each year and are recruited from the leading Christian colleges across America. The two camp directors have been with the camp for over 20 years.

Gander Brook provides campers with a good, healthy, faith-based environment away from the chaotic stresses that can often surround children. No electronic devices are allowed so it’s a great place for kids to unplug and connect with people and nature and to just have fun. For many campers, lifelong friendships are forged, and those friendships and the people associated with Gander Brook Christian Camp are what make this camp special.

Mezzapelle said that campers find encouragement and an environment of making everyone feel special and respected like they are family.

The Gander Brook Christian Camp site itself is one of Maine’s historic properties. On the site, the Wilson Hotel and Spring Company, with its centerpiece inn known as “The Wilson” was built in 1890. In a newspaper ad from 1892, promoters of this impressive structure touted its “Spring of Wonderful Purity and Curative Properties.” Guests coming to “The Wilson” would only be able to enjoy those ‘curative’ waters for five years though, because it burned to the ground in 1895. The Noraco Inn was built on the site in 1929 on the berms seen in the Wilson Hotel pictures, and which still surrounds the lodge today at Gander Brook.

The Noraco Inn was owned by Joseph Dellamano and the property in its heyday was a getaway vacation retreat for summer vacationers from urban areas of New England and New York. Promotional literature from the Noraco Inn enticed the guests to visit “Maine’s Log Cabin Resort” and stay in the “well furnished” cabins and eat at the lodge in the spacious “Sunset Dining Room.” When the inn closed around 1950, the property was vacant for nine years. The Churches of Christ in New England saw a need for summer camping and organized a Board of Directors which purchased the property in 1959 and has been operating a summer camp program each summer since then.

“This is such a beautiful place, and we want the community to know about it and young people to experience it,” Mezzapelle said.

Openings for children are currently available at Gander Book Christian Camp for this summer.

You can sign up online or call 207-998-4369 or 501-827-7432 for the registrar throughout the year.

For more information about Gander Brook Christian Camp, visit or find them on Facebook and Instagram under Gander Brook Christian Camp. <

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