Before I ever dreamed about running a campground, I spent years in France designing and selling fabric. The whole story is as winding and convoluted as a tale can be but suffice it to say that the experience left me with a love of color and fiber that fills all the corners of my thoughts.
Fast forward to Searsport Shores life in 1993: countless conversations of what kind of campground we wanted to be. Keep in mind that almost no one came to the campground that first year…so we had plenty of time to sit around, talking, planning,
arguing discussing and advocating for what each of us believed were priorities.
My mother and father were certain that we needed to be a calm, relaxing retreat. Dad saw the key to a good vacation as a well built park that had the infrastructure to support big rigs and tents alike. Trees trimmed high, even water pressure and electrical lines that were strong and steady. My mother’s vision was softer. She wanted extensive gardens and pleasure options like massage, reiki and yoga. Steven, drawing on his career in elementary education wanted hands-on learning opportunities where entire families were encouraged to explore together. He wanted a playground that facilitated active engagement and games that were both amusing and underlined the specialness of being on vacation in Maine among the animals, plants and Bay that made us unique. Me, I wanted authenticity. Twenty years ago, all the parks we talked to celebrated Christmas in July and Elvis in August, a perfect fit for their guests but that niche was already filled. I wanted to sell things made locally and host artists to teach more than gimp and pony beads.
We all got the best parts of our visions over time. First came the infrastructure and then we filled in with the rest. With all of the other expenses, we could only afford year-old fruit trees…so those were the ones we planted…today we can harvest cherries, apples and berries with enough to share with campers and guests.
Wait, this post is getting too long. Back to the art part, the rest will have to wait until another rainy day posting.
So the first few years we hosted floor cloth painting weekends, felting classes, hypertufa planters, and mosaic garden stones. In the beginning I think even the guests thought we were a bit strange but they joined in, often with a glass of wine in hand and we started to gain a core group of regulars. In 2005 we hosted the first Fiber College of Maine in the rec hall, video arcade and a few tents. 500 people came and we made friends that we cherish as part of our lives today. The success of that weekend gave us the courage to talk about building an art studio and a hosting a regular artist in residence program. It took a few years to solidify the plan and in December of 2010, Steve found a great price on cedar logs in Uncle Henry’s…now that I’ve given you the long version, here’s a slide show that tells more of the story: