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Can't go to summer camp? Bring it home, instead.

Parents and kids often rely on summer camps to get them through the few months away from school; now with so many closed, two businesses are delivering the fun.

PORTLAND, Maine — The school year ended three months early, so a lot of summer vacation plans have either been exhausted or canceled. "I was a camp kid. I grew up going to an adventure camp in New Hampshire, and it broke my heart that camps were canceled," says Terra Fletcher, the creator of The Trail Van, which offers rides from the city to trail heads, beaches, or campsites. 

Fletcher had just started her business last fall, then COVID-19 shut her down. So she took her previous experience with camp, and teamed up with Back40 Adventures to offer take-home Summer Camp Kits. "We do kits with tents; sleeping bags; camp chairs; things like that, and then Tara had the other side of it -activities, so it was pretty simple to merge the two," says Henry Gilbert with Back40.

Fletcher is offering delivery within an hour of Portland; anyone else can pick up a kit. "The art kit really encourages you to look closely at what's around you; experiment with textures, materials, colors. The ecology kit encourages you to get familiar with your local bugs and birds and plants around you," Fletcher explains. "The campfire kit is pretty classic; have a fire and share some stories; look up at the stars and learn about the constellations and make some music." 

The kits can be reserved for the weekend, for a week, or for two weeks at a time. "We've had the nature art pack for about a week and we've taken it to Wolfe's Neck Woods because they reopened," says Audra Gonyea, who has been enjoying the pack with her son, Warren. "We were able to go on the trails and find some leaves and sit on the rocks and watch the water and draw."

"That opportunity to try something you have never tried before, really lean into the opportunity to experience nature around you and look really closely at the leaves or the animals, that is something that's really unique to camp and that's sort of what I was hoping to capture with this," says Fletcher. 

To learn more about the kits, click here

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