This story first appeared in the 2019 spring edition of Forest View, FSM’s biannual newsletter.
Ever heard the phrase “Upta camp”? It refers to one of Maine’s cherished traditions—spending time at camp. It’s such a pervasive part of Maine culture that even if you don’t have a camp, chances are you have visited a friend’s. There is an allure to being in the woods away from everyday life, and being at camp provides time to relax and “just be.” Often just enjoying the surroundings—the great outdoors—is the main activity. But make no mistake, there’s a lot that happens at camp: exploring, paddling, swimming, fishing, hunting, playing games, cooking, making memories with family and friends, and more.
For Barry Bernard, longtime FSM supporter, family camp traditions go back four generations. Particularly for Bill, Harry, and George Bernard, (his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father), spending time in Maine’s North Woods was about a sense of self-reliance, independence, and stewardship.
Barry was thrilled when he was finally invited to camp at age six. No one got a free ride though and he had to carry his own pack, which an uncle slyly filled with an increasing number of rocks each time they stopped for a break. Pranks included, time at camp was treasured and it was important to his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather that the land be treated with respect. They instilled the value of respecting the land in their children as Barry has done with his own daughters.
A love for the woods has also been passed down through the generations and Barry says, “it’s in my blood.” He appreciates that FSM keeps in mind the multiple values the woods provide when undertaking a conservation project. Barry states, “FSM looks to conserve the land but also protect a way of life.” That includes outdoor traditions that Mainers have been enjoying for decades.
Many of us seek remote corners of the woods for solitude or to spend time with friends or family, and a big part of FSM’s mission is ensuring that there will always be the opportunity for people to go to the woods and “just be.”