MAINE OBJECTIVE Summertime at Maine’s Migis Lodge revolves around Sebago Lake.
DOES ANY IMAGE evoke summer more than a canoe drifting across a crystalline lake edged with pines? Just the smell of bristlecone brings back memories of splintery wooden docks, mint cool waters and the endearingly gloppy porridge served at sleep-away camp. At the Migis Lodge on the northwestern banks of Maine’s Sebago Lake, the Porta family has been re-creating that footloose feeling for adults and their own children—with make-your-own ice cream sundae socials and Bingo nights—since 1968.
Migis [pronounced M-eye-Gus] is a real Maine “camp”—a cluster of 35 cabins with ornithological names like Blue Heron, Loon and Skylark nestled in a grove of pines and a club house where generations of families gather each summer to toss horseshoes, play shuffleboard or volley ping-pong balls. Days fill up with lobster barbecues and backgammon challenges, while evening activities often include marshmallow roasts around a fire or twilight picnics on a nearby island. Unlike at a children’s camp, cocktail hour begins squarely at 5:30 p.m. From wicker rockers on the lodge’s front porch, guests can watch the evening light flicker on the lake and enjoy the silence, until a motorboat impertinently buzzes by. Somewhere, the smell of a wood fire is bound to drift through a screen door.
White Pine cabin.
In addition to an almost unnerving sense of peace, the beauty of Migis is that, like summer camp, the toughest decision might be whether to drop a ski or take a Sunfish for the day. It’s the kind of place where a chalkboard announces incoming guests and menu choices include retro specials like oysters Rockefeller or Bananas Foster. The jacket-and-collared shirt dinner dress code is strictly enforced. The food is plentiful, though—sadly, also like summer camp—unremarkable. Reservations? Let’s just say you can’t book a cabin at tripadvisor.com. You need to email inquiries or call and pay with cash or a check. Until recently, returning guests got priority.
The Goodrich family, who operated a ferry service from Portland, first built the lodge in 1916. Another family bought the property in 1924 and used it to accommodate families visiting children at nearby summer camps. In 1968, Gene and Grace Porta took over. They added more cottages in the 1980s. When their grandson Jed Porta took over management from his mother and father in 2009, they advised him to attract more baby boomers who were spending money on multi-generation travel. “These days with soccer practice and college, and work, families don’t come together at meals as much anymore,” said Mr. Porta. “We aim to pay homage to that family time, that sense of timelessness.” As such, digital devices are banned in public areas and the closest kids get to music is the karaoke machine.
Apart from hiking on the 125-acre property’s trails, you’ll find no reason to stray far. You can sample any number of water sports on the lake front, from wake boarding and canoeing to sailing and motor boating. The kids camp organizes land-based diversions too, including tie-dye lessons and kickball. In a rare concession to the modern age, the wellness center offers Pilates, Barre and Zumba. That said, there’s no pressure to do anything more strenuous than take in the fresh air and listen to the sounds of summer. From $334, all-inclusive, per person a day in summer, migis.com
Corrections & Amplifications
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Migis Lodge offers jet-skiing. The lodge offers waterskiing. (May 21, 2018)
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