The Centennial Camp


Camp Cobbosse

Winthrop, Maine

Cost per 51-day session: $6,950

Cost per half session: $4,100

Ages: 7-15, boys athletic camp

It is sometimes hard to imagine a New England summer camp in the late ’50s. It conjures sepia-toned, idyllic images of lakes, mountains and kids running through unspoiled campgrounds and swimming in pristine water.

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You can get a glimpse of what it must have been like in your mind’s eye, but it’s hazy at best. The kids and counselors spent eight weeks away from home, with few (by 21st Century standards) activities to choose from.

It was in this setting that two campers attending neighboring boys and girls camps eventually met and fell in love, with each other and camp.

Steve and Nancy Rubin have run the camp life spectrum for almost 50 years, first as campers, then as counselors, administrators and, most recently, as owners.

A good portion of those years was spent in New Hampshire at Camp Tomahawk (the boys camp) and Camp Wicosuta (the girls camp). Like so many others of this generation who are still in the camp business in one form or another, the Rubins have helped maintain the values and traditions of an era gone by.

While bearing the standard of a traditional, sleep-away camp, the Rubins have also taken a proactive approach to the challenges of the new century. Their camp philosophy has molded to the times, but remained true to its roots in spirit and action.

The Rubins have been running Camp Cobbossee in Winthrop, Maine, for the past 15 years. They are the third group of owners to run Cobbossee, which has been running continuously since 1902, making it the longest continuously-run boys camp in the U.S.

Cobbossee will celebrate its centennial next season, bringing in former campers from almost each phase of the camp’s history. It represents not only a reunion of Cobbossee campers, but of the New Hampshire camps where the Rubins faithfully spent their summers.

Getting Here from There

In many ways, Camp Cobbossee is Camp Tomahawk, Steve Rubin’s alma mater. Steve not only grew up at Tomahawk, he married the owner’s daughter, Nancy.

Steve and Nancy rose in the ranks to become leaders at their respective camps, and much of the managerial responsibilities fell to them. Nancy’s father, Red Bogart, eventually sold his camp interest and developed Tomahawk into luxury townhouses, so Steve and Nancy decided to buy another camp and take their campers and staff to a new location.

“We bought it because we fell in love with it; it’s a beautiful site, and we saw the potential in it,” says Steve. “The camp fires are held in the same area and in the same type of situation as the original. We have similar ceremonies, tradition and athletic competition as they had at the original camp.”

Cobbossee is still Cobbossee, but with the indelible mark of Tomahawk on it. The Rubins brought in a partner three years ago who also grew up at Tomahawk, Tony Lembeck, cementing the mark of that camp in the psyche of Cobbossee.

Lembeck fondly recalls Steve teaching him how to swim when Steve ran the waterfront at Tomahawk. This tie personifies the camp’s motto, “Friendships for a Lifetime,” a phrase that has real meaning at Cobbossee.

It’s a philosophy they strive to maintain by keeping the camper numbers relatively low and the counselor numbers relatively high. It ensures a high counselor-to-camper ratio and a family-like atmosphere.

“We watch over them, and we know everyone from the minute they’re there,” says Lembeck. “We have good contact with the parents and run it with a hands-on approach.”

Training & Competition

The staff at Cobbossee is a mixture of college-age counselors, who stay with the kids in the cabins and implement the program, and coaches and teachers who head up each department at the camp. These department heads are experts in their fields — whether it’s tennis, basketball, soccer, baseball or any of the many sports practiced at Cobbossee — and lead the college-age counselors with a defined program.

Cobbossee features all the major land and water sports, but also runs a few programs that are not very common — team handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, roller hockey and street hockey.

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