Head a half-hour or so northwest of Portland, Maine, a city defined by the sea, and you’ll come to Sebago Lake. Around its 45 square miles you won’t find wilderness, unless a storm rolls in, dark as night, and that’s wild enough when it catches you. But like thousands of lakes in New England, Sebago holds memory and tradition, and a deep sense of belonging. Along its shores are small resorts carved from the woods, summer cottages (“camps”) that have stood for generations, and overnight camps for children who make friends they never lose. We asked photographer Richard Schultz to watch days unfold on a summer lake until the quiet of darkness. For more than a week, he explored Sebago Lake on foot, in the water, by boat, and from his car, and found the stones that seem to skip forever through time and place.
Nowhere else in the country is the summer-camp experience for children so ingrained as along the lakeshores of New England. When Richard Schultz discovered Little Wohelo, a girls’ camp (ages 6–12) founded in 1907 on Sebago Lake, he was struck by the almost dreamlike quality of the classic and idyllic summer childhood still possible there. “The camp was amazing,” he says. “They were grounded and enjoying themselves. It was great to see these girls in such an outdoor, natural setting. They felt as if this was their home. I met people who’d gone to camp there 20 to 30 years ago. They still felt that they were Wohelo girls. There was a sense of everything in the world being forgotten, just kids being kids. The world fades away. No boys around; no electronic games; no television. Just friends, the outdoors, time on the water. A priceless, carefree time in their lives that they’ll treasure deeply as they get older.”
Summer on the lake isn’t just for children. Time slows as well for guests at Migis Lodge, where a rustic elegance graces the lake—where after-dinner walks along lantern-lit paths may be accompanied by the cry of a loon, the rustle of wind, the pervasive scent of pine, and laughter spilling out from a nearby cottage. Lakeside festivities include a twilight cocktail; cardplaying while waiting out an impending storm at Migis Lodge; a pre-dinner gathering on the lodge’s porch; a boat ride to Frye Island; and a traditional Migis lobster bake.
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