Part 1 of 3 by Terri Malloy

Gee’s Bend
Fiber College
Strung Together

Good Friends, Good Food, Good Music, Good Times!

Summer has come to an end but it didn’t go out quietly. Two weeks and our biggest events of the season were the culmination of an amazing summer at the Shores.

September 9, kicked off the Makers Guild of Maine’s Fiber College. Over 4 days, students immersed themselves in their chosen class, made new friends and enjoyed delicious prepared meals by Chef Patrick and his helpers. Most of the participants and instructors stayed at the campground in our cabins, RV sites or tent camped. This allowed everyone to relax and enjoy the evenings getting to know one another and soak up the beauty and atmosphere that makes Searsport Shores so magical.

Fiber College has been an integral part of Searsport Shores since 2006. It has morphed and evolved along the way but the main mission has remained the same: celebrate the fiber arts in all of its forms. Fibers (loosely translated to anything that can form a thread including wood, wire and melting metal, connect us to the natural world, time-honored skills, the global community, and to each other. It reminds us of all that it means to be human upon this great planet.

The first year of the pandemic we started moving towards immersive, small group workshops. Participants pre-register for one of the offered classes and spend 4 days with their instructor and other students deeply focused in one area of learning.

This year participants chose from Rug Hooking With Elizabeth Miller – A Rug by Any Other Name, Shoe Making with Molly Grant – Stepping Out in Style, Weaving with Bobbie Tilkens-Fisher – Tap into Tapestry and Dyeing with Rust with Samantha Verrone in her class The Alchemy of Rust.

Each class included 18 hours of instruction and additional time to work on their projects independently. This is one of the many perks of staying onsite. The class areas remained available so students could come and go in between all of the other happenings. There were also bonus classes to learn botanical printing, rope mat weaving, peg weaving. It was pretty impossible to leave here without your brain overflowing with new found knowledge.

As the days went by and I observed and moved throughout the classes and the gardens where the meals were held. I got to meet and talk to everyone and watch their projects go from idea to, in progress, to completion. Everyone seemed relaxed, happy and were enjoying the moments as they unfolded.

On the last day, everyone was encouraged to come down to the shore with their completed or in progress masterpieces for photos. Delicious breakfast smoothies and fresh baked muffins were on hand and the goats even joined in the fun.

On Sunday, we also hosted the first of two Community Days. Visitors could partake in ongoing demos and classes in Natural Dyeing, Botanical Printing, Peg Weaving, Mandala Dot Painting, Rope Mat Making and more. Tango’s food stand was open and had different offerings for each weekend. Live music played on the main stage and there were vendor stands set up by local artisans that offered a variety of handmade items and products for purchase.

All in all it was an amazing event. We have already started planning for 2023. You won’t want to miss it so mark your calendars now for September 7-10, 2023. There will be new, exciting classes and more changes as we learn a little more each year on how to make it better for all involved. Please feel free to leave a comment or send an email to relax@campocean.com. We would love to start a conversation and hear your ideas. Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3!

Penobscot Bay is out your door…maybe a minute or two walk

by Terri Malloy

My name is Terri Malloy,  I’ve been a full-time RVer and workamper for over 8 years. For those of you that don’t know what a workamper is, it’s someone that lives self contained and travels to different places trading a space to live for either volunteer hours or space plus paid hours or some combination of the two.

I love my site!

I move about every 6 months or so depending on the contract. I’ve workcamped at many campgrounds, state parks and various other places such as rescue ranches and theme parks throughout the years. Traveling to 38 states, I’ve met a lot of people and seen a lot of campgrounds.

I found Searsport Shores accidentally. I was looking for an artist retreat to go to and Searsport Shores Campground came up in the search. When I saw “campground” in the name, I immediately called and asked if they used workcampers.

There’s Art Everywhere!

Deb answered the phone and said, “yes we do, I’m one!”.

She gave me Astrigs email address and suggested I send an email. I promptly sent off an email thinking I had about a 50% or lower chance of getting in. It’s very hard for a single to get into campgrounds the further north you go because the campgrounds are smaller and they want 2 workers for 1 site. I was hoping that being an artist would give me an edge.

I emailed Astrig and she said to get in touch with her the second week of October as she needed to wait until  the end of the season to see who was coming back.  This was July, so it was a long wait!

I dutifully called the second week in october and we chatted about the campground, art, music and the type of community her and Steve had spent the last 28 years building. I was in love and then elated when she said I would fit right in.

I arrived in May, just in time for clean-up weekend. This is the weekend before opening and they offer a free site for the weekend for people that will come and help clean, build, cook and bring the campground back to life after its long winter’s sleep.

It’s time to get to work!

I met so many people that weekend, many who have become dear friends since. Everyone worked hard, met for home-cooked meals at the end of the day and got to know each other in the evenings around the campfire. I knew then that this was a special place and this was going to be an amazing summer.

Woodfired pizza, music and new friends

Well we’re near the end of August now and my time here has not disappointed. I’ve created art, taught art classes, played in almost every weekly Open Jam Session, met great people and made lifelong friends.

September is full of incredible events. Starting with Fiber College, then the Gees Bend Quilting Workshop which runs concurrently with Strung Together, and Old Time and Bluegrass Music Festival. You can find more information on these events and register at http://www.makersguildmaine.org.

I will be going more in depth on each of these events in next few days. We still have a couple of Artists in Residence here, including Santa Steve, and the Sea Strings Orchestra will still be playing Monday evenings in the Garden and we will still have Open Jams on Wednesday nights.

This is truly a special place filled with love, community, like minded artists and lovers of art and music. If you’re looking to disconnect from the internet, TV, your cell phone and the outside world, I encourage you to visit.

You will leave renewed, recharged, motivated to create and keep the art and music spirit inside you alive until you return.

The Bay is Calling

As we slide into the end of August and Labor Day draws near, we’re hanging onto the last of the true summer days vigorously.

The weather is still warm and the nights are getting a little cooler, creating the perfect time for one last getaway.

Starfish, Seals, Porpoises, you never know what you will see.

We have many fun events coming in September and we will still have live music Monday and Wednesday nights and art classes available from several Artists in Residence. Learn something new or dive deeper into an existing passion.

The New Zeitgeist were our latest artists in residence.

We will be open through Columbus Day Weekend. Give us a call today – 207-548-6059 – to learn more about upcoming events and get your reservation started.

Happy 4th of July!

The campground was full of families laughing, playing and having a great time this weekend. The weather the past couple of days has been picture perfect. Our guests have enjoyed kayaking, clamming, fishing, playing in the Bay, campfires and just plain relaxing. Hopefully, everyone has enjoyed their 4th as much as we have!

Fresh Picked Strawberries!
Firewood to Create Your Own Campsite Fireworks

Happy Valentines Day!

It’s our day of love…can you feel it? In this virtual reality I feel like singing from the rooftop…

I love my husband! I love my family, I love my flock and little slice of heaven here on the Maine coast. I love the celebrations we host, the friends that we’ve made and the community that holds us tight. Thank you to everyone who supports us in our little world…we continue to promise to give back every step of the way!

Celebrating the snow!

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I visited our poor neglected blog…I’m making a new pledge to give it more attention as life settles into a more “normal” rhythm. What more perfect way than to share a videos of the flawless blanket of snow that covered us over the weekend? It’s 30 seconds of “nothing special”…just Penobscot Bay as it sparkles!

snowshoeing along the boardwalk at low tide

Our little bubble of a world has been relaxed and comfortable. The family came for the holidays and then Steven and I settled into our January routine of organizing paperwork, making charts, plans and lists of things we must get done before the snow melts (hear me wishing for a very long winter?). We’ve been pursuing our pleasures…me with the weaving, spinning and dyeing, Steve with the community orchestra and a myriad of other musical pursuits. On these very short winter days, the animals have remained happy and healthy and all of us have been consuming a few too many calories while reading and catching up on Netflix…but certainly the snowshoes helped today, right?

Burning calories

We’ve made plans to expand the playground and reservations are coming in nicely. I’m thrilled to have Elaine back “in the office” with us choosing sites for people. She’s very good at it, because she spent 15 years in the park and really cares about guest experiences. Last year she moved to VA to be closer to family. One of the gifts of Covid was learning that we didn’t need to be in the same space to work effectively. We’ve gotten some very nice press lately and we’ve needed the help. Did you see the article that came out in Conde’ Nast Traveller just before Christmas? We were chosen the Best Campground to visit this year! Wow!

I’ve got to run and feed the flock… but we wish you well and I promise to stay in touch more often.

I’ve missed you too! Astrig

May peace and health be with you!

It’s a Team Effort

Yesterday a dear friend took me on a short video tour of her office…an affluent space painted bright white, filled with creative people doing important things. But I couldn’t get past how “indoors” it all was…in my world I forget (and have perhaps never really known) that while others covet a balcony or a window view, I shift picnic tables to get out of the wind or into the right mixture of sunshine and shade.

As an example: This morning George our mechanic texted to say that he’d made blueberry muffins this morning and there were two with my name on them in the workshop (George has blueberry barrens). Deb (part of the office/gardening team) reminded me to stop and look at the peonies that Norma purchased for our new garden by the frog pond…full bloom beauties. Steve brought ice coffee to the middle of the garden so that we could plan out which peas should climb which trellises. I guess you could say that we’ve been “#cottagecore” before “#cottagecore” was a thing.

Last week we gathered for Clean Up Weekend…our traditional means of jump starting the camping season, always the week after Mothers’ Day. In case you haven’t heard about it, we trade campsites for help with the chores. The format is always the same: a huge to do list on a big white board, lots of good food and smiles to share and at the end of the day we pour Mermaid Water liberally (pineapple juice, rum and Malibu with lime) and salute the amount of work that was accomplished by so many willing hands. Steve and I are always humbled by the outpouring of support. When we wave goodbye to friends, there’s always a feeling of groundedness that can only come from being surrounded by a village…nothing feels overwhelming anymore. Clean up weekend is the 21st century version of a barn raising or quilting bee.

Chores are so much more fun when they’re shared! Thank you everyone!!

While all of the activity was swirling around in the park, one of our big concerns was that no one disturb the nesting mallard duck who had claimed the Rec Hall porch all to herself…it made perfect sense because she had soft bags of leaves to nest on (we gather them in the fall to use as bedding for the flock), it was warm and out of the rain and our fountain ponds were close by for fresh water and algae nibbles. She sat on those eggs for 27 days and we were on the other side of the porch when all seven of them hatched. We were so proud you’d have thought we had something to do with the miracle! Momma duck let the hatchlings rest for about 2 hours before she nudged them out of the nest and onto the deck and within 20 minutes they were in the stream swimming like they’d done it for ages…I haven’t smiled so much in ages!

Learn more about nesting birds

Looking towards the future, planned campground activities are taking shape now that we know that pandemic restrictions have lifted…but in deference to all, we’re choosing to celebrate summer 2021 outside and with socially distanced activities. It was a hard decision but we’re going to hold off on the lobster bakes until 2022 BUT we will be doing other food related celebrations with details to follow in the weeks to come. We’ll still be playing with fire though…Nate Winters will be teaching raku pottery this summer as a family activity. And you know about the Fiber College Touchstone Retreats happening every month…right? The proceeds of the retreats benefit the Makers Guild of Maine projects like the fiber tool and musical instrument lending library.

Nate Winters will be joining the campground on June 12, July 24, August 21 and September 11th to teach us raku firing…wrap your pots in seaweed, grasses, flowers and any other botanicals you can think of for one of a kind results…it’s AMAZING and can you think of a better souvenir????

Tomorrow we will begin to enjoy the rush of folks coming for a Memorial Day weekend camping trip. As I sit here typing on a picnic table in 80 degree sunshine, it’s hard to internalize that it’s still just May…as I articulate these thoughts, Steven reminds me that he know’s full well how warm it is because he feels like he’s a month behind with mowing already…how does that happen?

From the Ground Up!

100 years ago, our campground was part of a coastal farm that stretched from the ocean’s edge to the mountain on the other side of Route 1. Farmers typically fished in the winter and farmed in the summer so the lucky landholders enjoyed the best of both worlds. As we build the hiking trails and gardens across the road, we’ve come to truly appreciate the flexibility we have to work by the cool breezes of the water or hike in the shelter of the woods.

Part of responsibly managing these 150 acres involves culling trees and cleaning up “winter pruning.” As we’ve watched the price of lumber sky rocket, we’re particularly thankful for the white pine that was planted in careful rows 50 years ago under a government program to reforest the coast. Thanks to these trees, over the years many of our buildings have been constructed from the lumber that was grown here (as a side bar, we plant two trees for every one that is cut). These past few months, Steve’s been focused on all things wood, so first the logs went out of the campground…and then the boards came back. The next projects are another tiny house cabin, a big side deck on the garden kitchen for outdoor meals and dancing and another pavillion for gathering…I love the smell of sawdust in the air!

a little too excited about sharing a meal with friends!

My time has been occupied with all things Campground Office, Maker’s Guilds Retreats and our well loved flock. I’m grateful that we are now exiting the season of zoom and entering the season of face to face . Like many, I’ve been craving real smiles and sparks of conversation with friends old and new. Our friends are trickling back into the campground to help us run the summer season smoothly and we’re looking forward to a fluid blend of camping, food, and creative pursuits. Now that we’re all vaccinated, we’ve been able to share meals, although we continue to choose outdoor encounters over indoor ones ’cause we kinda like it. Last night we cooked pizzas in the wood range (that lives in the garden kitchen that was built with lumber from the campground ๐Ÿ˜‰).

Our 29th annual clean up weekend happens in 4 days. The waterlines have been activated (but not all tested), the powers on and the lists are piling up everyday…supplies to buy, meals to plan, a big chart of who’s coming in and where their specialties lie. Clean Up weekend is the salve to our souls because just when we feel like the chores and repairs are more than we can handle, a calvary of fresh energy comes in and just like the bumper sticker promises, many hands make for light work! Besides, I get to indulge my love of making donuts in the lodge pot on Saturday morning!

We’ve changed things up a bit in the flock too. Those of you know who know our little Binx, know that he’s a fragile old soul that needs a bit of protection…long story short, his partner Bubbles was getting too rambunctious so she found a new home, and little Jellybean was in need of a gentle companion…so we did a little swapping. Don’t you wish all relationships could be so easily re-arranged? Now you know why our kids have 4 legs!

And last but certainly not least, we’re putting more of the touches on the Makers Guild retreats. Our first one is just a month away and I can’t wait! Three wonderful artists are gathering before hand for a bit of self guided professional development…and then they’ll be teaching 20 lucky students how to make a bespoke tunic from fabric they’ve been guided to dye with natural indigo, embroider it with stitches made from plant dyed embroidery floss and then cut and sew a tunic that fits their body to perfection. A tunic sound too daunting…there will be an evening wrap option too. Click here to find out more. In the meantime, keep creating happiness and stay healthy!

Mid April

the forsythia “popped” on Saturday

I’m feeling my wings unfurl, ever so slightly, as the sunshine is becoming increasingly warm. The days are lasting longer (fun fact: Maine’s longest day is 15 hours and 15 minutes on June 20, 2021) and the ground is drying up just enough to let the crocus burst along the walk to the beach and we can now collect the mail without wearing rubber boots. Whilst everyone I know is still masking in public, most friends are vaccinated and we’re beginning to share meals without hurrying to put our masks back on if we linger at the table. The biggest treat was that for the first time in 13 months my sister came up for a visit when she dropped nephew Nick off to work during his Spring break from school. It was a quick turnaround but long enough to walk the beach, share blood orange margaritas and compare knitting projects that we’ve Face-timed about all winter long.

Steven has been working the grounds and prepping the gardens. We moved the entire raised raspberry bed to make more room for Covid spaced seating near the garden kitchen. Kelin and David have been loading the Spring beds with seaweed, wood ash and composted bedding from the sheep and goats in preparation for the seedlings that are sprouting in the green house like there was no tomorrow. When bending over the garden beds starts to hurt, there’s always pulling cat-o’nine tails in the frog ponds, cleaning up the trees and branches that have dropped during the winter storms. When he doesn’t have his gardening gloves on, Steve’s been wearing an electrician’s belt, working with the crew, laying the groundwork for electrical upgrades (all the while, growling grousing about the squirrels and critters that nibble the rubber casings) and re-engineering some of the drainage ditches in the ocean tenting area. He’s also been monitoring the brown tail moth webbing in the trees. What little we’ve found has been cut and burned. We’re hoping that we’ve beat the odds and won’t be disturbed by these caterpillars in June. Wikipedia says: “The brown-tail moth is a moth of the family Erebidae. It is native to Europe, neighboring countries in Asia, and the north coast of Africa. Descriptions of outbreaks, i.e., large population increases of several years duration, have been reported as far back as the 1500s.” Lucky for us they only affect Cape Cod and the Maine coast…how can that be?

I get outside every chance I get now that it’s warming up but much of my time has been spent on our non-profit endeavor, the Makers Guild of Maine, 501 c3. Officially we’re the Makers Guild but colloquially we’re known by our favorite event of the year: Fiber College. Last year the pandemic almost put a screeching halt to our September gathering but with the help of many friends we were able to organize an intimate retreat, focused on small classes of woodworking, print making, quilting, embroidery and natural dyeing. By shifting gears from “festival” to “retreat” we found that we actually enjoyed the gathering more because we slowed the pace down, had a chef come and prepare all of our meals and put a priority on lingering and dawdling instead of rushing from one class to another with the fear of missing something in between. SEE? We did learn something from the pandemic: linger and relax are verbs we should keep in the fore of our vocabulary!

This year, instead of one retreat, we’re offering 9 retreats. We’re focusing on the touchstones in our lives…the wisdom passed from one generation to another that we can rely upon to center our ambitions and guide our decisions. Searsport Shores will host the these retreats from June to September. We’ll be celebrating everything from baking bread with heritage grains from the Caucasus to carving wooden kayak paddles in an Acadian style, and making paper with botanicals from the field across the street to enameling jewelry in European traditions. If you’d like more details, check out the website here.

And with GLEE and optimism we’ll be opening on May 14th with our 29th annual clean up weekend…(even if the 28th one didn’t occur, we still get to count it, right?). Come on Thursday or Friday stay through Sunday or Monday and help us with the spring clean up chores we haven’t gotten to yet. What kind of chores? The easy answer is that in our world there’s always something for everyone to do: window washing, twig clean up, raking, gardening, building, building more stuff, repairing stuff that was built last time. Blowing up balls for the playground, clearing trails and cleaning out the cobwebs from the corners we haven’t looked at all weekend. We’ll remain masked, share meals outdoors and enjoy being together. If you’d like to come and haven’t let us know already, please send an e-mail at relax@campocean.com so that I can give you an updated schedule in May.

Be well, linger in the sunshine and visit when you can!

Surrounded by water

Step out our door, slip in mud. Walk through the garden, sink into the mud. Skip rocks at the beach, drop into the mud. It’s April on the coast and we’re making dents with every step we take. So it seemed like a good day to tell you about three islands you should consider visiting while you’re here. (thinking about water and land…you see the connection, right?)

#1 Sears Island

In the morning we watch it for the sunrise, in the evening we gaze at the moon cresting the ridge and in the fog we listen to the mooring bells protecting the ships making their way into Mack Point. Sears Island is just across from the campground, accessible by kayak, paddle board, car or bicycle…and completely uninhabited by humans. My buddy Ken wrote about it on this blog a few years back…every time he visits he heads there to jog the roads and the trails…and picnic on the break water. The Friends of Sears Island do an awesome job stewarding this 940 acre gem and if you keep an eye on their website they offer wonderful outdoor education programs for the entire family. You can even get a backpack from our local library that is specifically organized to better explore the island…without question, pack a picnic and spend the day. If you timing is good you can pick blackberries and blueberries for dessert. Interested in clamming? Steve leads a demo expedition every Sunday at low tide…once you know where to dig, all you need to do is get a license at town hall and you’ll be eating steamed clams in pasta every night!

#2 Vinalhaven

Everything about the journey to Vinalhaven is pleasant. Catch an early ferry from Rockland Harbor and leave your car behind for the day…you can walk or ride a bike everywhere you’ll want to go once you land at the pier. The ferry trip is 12 beautiful miles and you’ll motor past tiny islands, iconic homes on spruce covered points, pods of dolphins and seals and more seabirds than you can name. When you get there you’ll be need to decide how to spend the day…swimming at the quarries? beach combing the sands at Lane’s Island Preserve? Pick buckets of blueberries for tomorrow’s pancakes? or rent kayaks from the local motel in town…on the other hand, you could choose to sit on a bench in the middle of the village and just watch the world go by until it’s time to head back to the mainland.

Before you go, you might check out this video for the pleasure of hearing the voices and stories of those who call these islands home. (North Haven is just across the thorofare from Vinalhaven). If you’re looking for a full day excursion that will delight and accommodate everyone in a multi-generational group you won’t be disappointed if you choose to head to Vinalhaven.

# 3 Deer Isle

Deer Isle and Stonington are quintessential destinations if you’re looking to visit Maine “off the beaten path.” If you enjoy driving through pretty country roads, stopping in picturesque villages and discovering a pebble strewn beach that isn’t even on a map, this is the destination for you. You could bicycle the peninsula but I wouldn’t…there’s not a two inch shoulder in many places. Stonington is the perfect destination to roll the windows down and just soak in the blueberry barrens, tiny farms and stop at every artist studio you can find. It takes grit to live this far down on the Bay and tourists are rewarded by a warm welcome from the folks who call this undulating land home.

Our tiny corner of the world can be boiled down to an equal lateral triangle. Each side is a collection of calendar perfect villages, all worthy of exploring and an easy drive from the campground…90 minutes to either vertex if you drive with intention, hours of pleasure if you let yourself wander…did I mention that there’s lots of breweries and fabulous food joints along the way? Ask us in the office and we’ll map out an itinerary just for you.

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