This time of year when the humidity level averages 90% for a week at a time, the hazy visibility sinks below 6 miles, and temperatures remain at a swampy 88 degrees, it is confusing to us Mainers as to why people come flocking to the inland, rural, part of our state. Sure, the cold Atlantic ocean – our picturesque Eastern Seaboard- with its scenic shoreline, lobster rolls and seagulls must be desirable any time of the year. It is no mystery as to why the entire length of Route 1 North, from York to Bangor, is backed up with bumper to bumper traffic- out of staters escaping their cities for the relief of the cooler coastal country. But those that dare to turn west and venture inland year after year, willing to face the heat, the bugs, the potholed country roads and the lack of plumbing, must be drawn by one destination and one destination only: Upta Camp.
The existence of Upta Camp dates back as far I've ever been told. Grampa tells stories of his own father's time upta camp so that must mean it's been a destination since at least the early 1900's. If you aren't part of a family that frequents their own getaway, there may be some confusion as to what truly defines an upta camp. Let me help you understand:
Upta camp is most definitely a seasonal dwelling, year round homes do not count- these classy establishments are called "cottages" or "cabins". Upta camp is not insulated- it is likely sided with logs, plywood, metal or screens. It is not heated, though it may have an old woodstove rigged up for use to extend through the summer season or during hunting season. If the dwelling can be occupied comfortably through the winter, and through the end of snowmobile season, it is likely a "cabin".
Upta camp is located in what seems to be an inconvenient place (don't worry – you will come to love it). Dirt roads have been washed out from the 8-10' of snow that melted and carried away the road's surface last month. The utilities end about three houses into the road where the year round residents live in their cabins. Beyond these cabins, the road narrows to a single lane and climbs steeply while the trees thicken and hoof prints appear (these are not horses).
Once your reach upta camp you'll know you are there because it's just as you left it. The outhouse door is propped open with a piece of firewood. While your intention was to air out the family's only composting toilet room, you may discover you have given free and easy accommodation to a variety of woodland creatures. You'll want to discourage their occupancy immediately. There will be a variety of objects left on the lawn from last year. (I use "lawn" loosely as it's really just a cleared area where a few trees have been downed and their stumps remain- really it's a dooryard. Google that one). The empty LaBatts Blue Ribbon boxes are soggy and leaning against the camp off to one side. There is likely a pink flamingo- this yard décor is important as it helps us Mainers to trick ourselves into thinking we are someplace exotic.
Your upta camp may be specific enough to fall into a subcategory (e.g "sled", "deer", "lake" are all common prefixes which replace "upta"). For example, my family proudly owns "duck camp". It is where the men in our family have been going, and will continue to go, for generations in order to most effectively hunt ducks. We do live in Maine year round, and we are located in a geographic area with plenty of wetland and waterfowl habitats. Duck Camp is located about 3 hours away (justa 'bout due North), and is true to the "upta camp" definition. It features an outhouse (no plumbing), a reclaimed woodstove, plywood siding, bunk beds, a bumpy dirt road, mosquitos, oil lamps (no electricity),a dooryard, and remnants of cases of beer. I personally feel satisfaction from visiting once annually, just to see with my own eyes that it is still standing and to experience a weekend in the tradition of being upta camp. The men of the family, however, feel the need to visit duck camp as frequently as possible throughout duck season. Whatever the draw of these questionable features and the experience one has at the property, it is no doubt that duck camp will thrive as a family destination for generations to come.
The initial investment in an upta camp varies based on the existence of infrastructure, size of the lot and quality of harvestable timber on that lot. Fortunately our experience with and appreciation for upta camp, makes us area specialists when it comes to purchasing your first one. If you or someone you know is looking for an upta camp, contact Mason Bancroft today.
Our landline telephone number is 207-824-1033.