A Life Long Love: Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Over 30 years ago, my father and a group of his buddies bought a tow-behind camper. As legend goes, they towed that thing from Massachusetts up the eastern coast looking for a campground to park it for a seasonal campsite. Many places refused a group of single guys claiming they were a “family” campground. My life-long memories of seasonal campground life began when a small family-owned campground in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, agreed to accept this group of bachelors.
My father married my mother and took over the seasonal site from his buddies. They had the most precious baby girl in 1989 (me). Then a cute little baby boy in 1990, my brother.
This was the first Silvar Family Campsite. It was followed by two other sites as my brother and I grew up and my parents separated.
New England Campground Life
It has been explained to me, by friends outside of the northeast, that having a “summer camp” is not something the rest of the country does. I’ve also been told that not a lot of families in the northeast even do this. But when I drive around in Old Orchard Beach passing about six large seasonal campgrounds, I find that hard to believe. Either way, I will explain how it works.
My family owned a trailer and parked it in a campground in Old Orchard Beach. The campground is open from mid April to mid October. These trailers range from 5th wheels, travel trailers, or park models. Each family has their own site they rent and pay an annual seasonal rate to stay there from April to October. It’s a small community in many instances with multiple pools, a rec hall, playgrounds, family-friendly and adult activities. Golf carts buzz around to get from place to place. Kids are out on their bikes. The speed limit is 5-10 miles per hour. Ours is only a short trolley ride to the beach.
It’s a middle class beach house. A small, more affordable slice of heaven.
Some little girls dream of beach houses right on the water. Instead, I dreamed of a trailer for my own family–a place where my kids can create the same memories my brother and I had growing up.
Our Home Away From Home
In the summer of 2016, my dad’s place was getting a bit too crowded. My brother, his wife, his three dogs, and first son under a year old were all staying with my Dad’s trailer at the beach. Auntie Chrissy and Uncle Geek were also on a futon on the porch. It. was. Chaos.
My sensible and much more financially responsible partner, Mr. Geek, indulged me by touring campers for sale that summer–but explained that it was just not the best time to purchase a camp. We had only been in our first house for a year and were preparing and saving for more renovations. We had also discussed marriage and a future wedding–and how expensive that would be.
And I agreed…for the most part…about 90%.
My sister in law’s mother told me about their family friends within the same campground, right around the corner from my dad’s place. They were thinking of selling their camp–but it was still not listed in the campground newsletter.
I did something that I consider to be one of the ballsiest things I have ever done.
I was going for a stroll around the campground…
No. I shouldn’t lie.
I was purposely walking by and practically breaking my neck to see if anyone was there. I was even peaking into the windows of the trailer to try and see what it looked like.
I had 20 seconds of insane courage (thank you, Matt Damon in We Bought A Zoo).
I walked right up to the couple enjoying breakfast in their pajamas on their porch. I asked them about buying their trailer. I had no idea who they were. I didn’t even know if I had the right place. But dammit, I just had to know.
They were so sweet and kind. It WAS them. They offered me a tour, but also mentioned that another person might be interested in purchasing the trailer.
BY NO MEANS DO I RECOMMEND DOING WHAT I DID NEXT. Ever. Decisions should be made together as a couple, with discussion, a pros and cons list, expression of feelings, and all of the healthy communication techniques suggested by relationship and marriage experts.
I bought it.
Mr. Geek had NO IDEA. He didn’t even see it before I bought it.
Worst case scenario? I could live in it when we broke up and I had to move out of our house…
He was not happy. And I certainly understand why. I made a major purchase without consulting him as we were in the early stages of embarking on our life together. However, I think he knew how important Old Orchard Beach was to me and how I always envisioned our future family life.
“But what about our wedding?” Mr. Geek asked me.
At least he still wanted to marry me.
Then we sat, discussed, made a pros and cons list, expressed our feelings, and decided on a small intimate wedding with immediate family–in Old Orchard Beach, Maine–was the best way to celebrate the beginning of our marriage.
That other interested buyer the couple was talking about on that courageous day? I later found out it was actually me they were referring to. I take this as a sign that it was simply meant to be.
Additional Posts About Our Home Away From Home & Seasonal Campground Life: