Celebrate 60 years and help us secure our future

Roots & Renewal

The Campaign for Small Point Summer School

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We’re raising $600,000 to secure the future of SPSS.

Our Mission

The Small Point Summer School (SPSS), founded in 1958, has been the lively heart of our community for nearly 60 years. All of us have countless memories of enjoying plays, tennis tournaments, weddings, and social events for all ages at the Summer School. Some of us may even remember our time as a camper. We rely on the time-honored custom of enrolling our children and grandchildren in the SPSS to learn to enjoy sailing, tennis, the arts, and the natural sciences. Such a vital institution cannot be sustained without attention to its basic needs, and this is why we are seeking your help to ensure that the magic of SPSS continues for future generations.

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Table of Contents

  1. Welcome
  2. Campaign Goals
  3. Magic and Memories


It is not unusual to hear parents lingering around the steps of Brad's Barn speak of their hope that their own children will have the kinds of experiences they had during their time at SPSS.

Over the past couple of decades, our community has been grappling with the challenges posed by an expanding population, changing work and life patterns, increasing pressure from outside, and even environmental changes. Our simple desire to "keep things as they were" is now being channeled into positive focus on thoughtful change for the future. These days, as we gather with our families and friends at the beginning of the day at the Summer School, on the Club porch, or walking down Big Beach at low tide, our conversations are less about how things once were and more about what we can do - should do, must do - to ensure that this place we love so deeply will survive.

Thinking in this way has brought the Summer School to the understanding that a Capital Campaign is essential. We have a rapidly expanding population of campers who are eager to have the special SPSS experience in and around our beloved and aging buildings. The Capital Campaign seeks to safeguard our heritage of fostering friendships, play, and learning; to position the Summer School to continue its role as the guardian of treasured traditions; and to shore up and improve our aging physical infrastructure.

After completing a detailed professional survey of our building conditions, we have developed a program to address the short-term and long-term maintenance and renovation needs of the Summer School. As well as repairing them, we need to respond to changing needs and uses for our buildings, to re-conceive and reconfigure them to be more flexible and functional for the future. We are looking into the future so that our children and the generations to come will experience the benefits of our stewardship.

In the words of Sydney Smith as she closed the first Summer School season:
"Many generous gifts have been made to the Summer School which will permit us to expand our programs next year. What is more important, however, is that our children enjoyed a happy and instructive summer. I hope the first of many."


The Capital Campaign Committee and The SPSS Board of Trustees

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Campaign Goals

Our campaign is based on the need to renovate, improve and build in ways that honor the traditions and unique character of the SPSS, with an emphasis on maintaining our beloved existing facilities. Very basic maintenance needs and keeping up with growth have outstripped our financial resources.

Our total Campaign Goal is $600,000. Reaching this goal will help us fulfill three primary objectives:

  • Addressing immediate structural, functional, and operational needs.
  • Establishing a comprehensive plan for routine maintenance, capital improvements, and the replacement of assets in a timely, thoughtful manner.
  • Establishing an endowment sufficient to underwrite our long-term repair and maintenance plan.


Most Small Pointers have special memories of time spent in the Sprague House "library" doing art projects, celebrating at cast parties, and learning to tie knots. The years have been hard on this space, which is now literally sinking into the earth. We need to shore up this part of the building and make it serviceable as a meeting space for the Navigators program and all SPSS staff. At the same time we’ll address the other critical needs of Sprague Hall, including foundation repair, window and sill repair, electrical updates to meet code, and other crucial structural improvements to protect the integrity and safety of the building for years to come.

Anticipated project cost: $60,000


The Summer School has experienced significant growth over the last 15 years—almost a 300% increase in enrollment. The Explorers group (ages 4-7) has clearly outgrown the Library in Sprague Hall. We plan to address the need for additional capacity with a new multi-purpose space to house the Explorers in a safe, inviting, and harmonious camp setting that maintains the comfortable, familiar, friendly feel of the School. Conceived as a companion building to the existing Arts and Nature space, this will be a flexible, functional space for 25+ children, providing sufficient room for one of our most popular programs and linking it more directly to other program activities.

Anticipated project cost: $200,000


We will make strategic improvements to the SPSS campus to improve access and better utilize the full property. The scope includes more efficient parking, improved handicapped access and additional outdoor activity spaces that are safe and functional for all of our programming needs, including substantial bathroom upgrades in Brad’s Barn. We are committed to these improvements, recognizing children and nature as priority over car convenience.

Anticipated project cost: $40,000


Camp fees do not cover the costs of operating the Summer School. Every year we rely on the income from our modest Preservation Fund, the Annual Fund, and special events to complete our repairs and offer quality programming. As a result, major maintenance is often deferred. We plan to strengthen our endowment to guarantee that we'll always be able to make the repairs and renovations needed for our vital institution: replacing roofs, siding, windows, bathroom fixtures, boats, vans, etc. Income from an endowment of $300,000 will provide roughly $15,000 annually for regular repairs and maintenance, as well as allowing us to tackle one major project every year or two on schedule.

Goal: $300,000

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The Magic and Memories

"I recall poking around the rocks and the wrack line, exploring tide pools and collecting sea creatures to populate the big aquarium tank, sailing rough plywood prams in Back Bay while Billy Smith supervised and shouted encouragement up to his chest in water. I remember building and painting sets for the play.

Four decades later, after many years spent mostly away, I returned and recommitted myself to Small Point. I had kids of my own, and I wanted my two boys to find their own places here, to come to love and care as deeply as I do about this little peninsula at the easternmost tip of Casco Bay. I joined the Board of the Summer School as a way of giving back, and in hopes that my children, and theirs, and countless others for generations to come, would find a welcome, and a refuge. Our future depends on it."

- Tevere MacFadyen

"The Small Point Summer School imbues Small Point with the sense of community that makes it so much more than just a beautiful slice of the Maine coastline. Building a fairy house as a four-year-old Explorer, capsizing an Opti on your first day sailing with "the big kids," sprinting around the court during an endless tennis rally in a game of "around the world," practicing leadership skills and building confidence as a young counselor that later translates into the job of your dreams - in all these ways the Summer School provides so many children with the lifelong gift of lasting and meaningful relationships

- Annie Dear

"I've tried to add up how many shows I did between 1981 and 2012, but I can't get the same number twice! Suffice it to say there have been a lot of them. People I directed as children are now watching their own children perform in the plays. To have the privilege of directing the children of children I worked with back in the 1980s is indescribable. To walk up the Big Beach and have kids run up and give me a hug makes my day...I owe it all to Summer School. Thanks, Buma!!"

- Debba Curtis

"For many years...the Small Point Summer School was a very small group, usually run by a director with maybe one or two counselors...together all went sailing, swimming, played tennis or kick the can, and on Thursdays went on treasure hunts or had other adventures. There were always one or two campouts during the summer. Sally Graves and I managed to tow an old secondhand Whaler down from Rockport, and the sailing counselor was then able to yell his instructions to everyone as he circled the fleet. With a lot of enthusiasm from old campers who became counselors and then directors, the Summer School began to move forward to what it has become today."

- Shirlee (Sandy) Mitchell

"Uncle Junie and Sydney had been plotting how to keep my generation employed and the younger ones amused and happy during the summer. I learned about the plan to use the Sprague Barn as the center of a new community venture when Sydney asked me if I would be her assistant the following summer. It was a very fine 13th birthday present and something to look forward to all winter long. We would pass on to those a bit younger all the lore and adventures our gang had accumulated over years of tormenting unsuspecting college students hired to keep track of us.

The next five years were thrilling. I got paid to do all the things I loved to do most: roam the marshes, sail, play in tide pools, walk the rocks and corral relatives and friends into landing boats on islands, teaching others the unforgiving rules of tide, wind, and currents.

I never questioned the support of the larger community, even of families who did not send their children right away. The community was a constant resource, and I trust it will be there for many years to come, providing the love, ideas, enthusiasm, helping hands, and money needed to keep all the summer's dreams alive."

- Katie Motley Pfitzer Hinckley

"Every Friday morning, I wait eagerly for the opportunity to cram myself into Peggy's car and bounce down to Peacock Crossing, where I will dash down to the gangway with the rest of the Arts & Nature group. We all await it too, these treats of time with Peggy, learning experiences hidden in the guise of an afternoon ocean escapade. I will forever cherish those hot summer days spent catching crabs at Peacock Crossing with the Small Point Summer School. I learned life lessons by way of the crab and net, and I can only hope that those opportunities will be afforded for generations of Small Pointers to come.

- Winslow MacDonald

Backstage in the dark, I’m ratcheting Malcolm's cable tensioner to tighten a homemade zip line in Brad's Barn. Objective? To send Peter Pan (aka Annie Dear) soaring across the barn to join the Darling children - Sam and Seal and Carter - onstage. Fingers crossed (what was I thinking?), I watch her kick off from the lighting booth (please don’t stall out!), pass over Nancy Ijams and Sydney and the front-bench wee ones (please, don't crash!), and then—touchdown! She's landed safely, nothing's broken, the action commences! And we're off to another night of magic in our very own Neverland: The Small Point Summer School.

The experience was utterly transformational, for though I’d come to our beautiful little corner of Maine many times as a child, it was only when I connected with age-mates at the Summer School that my Small Point experience took a quantum leap forward. Within the arc of several decades, I directed an SPSS play myself one summer, watched a succession of friends play similar roles, joined the Board and supported nephews and later my own kids as SPSS campers, counselors, and actors. I could never have imagined during those early years just how pivotal a role SPSS would play in building lifelong friendships. The Summer School, which year after year nurtures and extends our community's extraordinary multigenerational fellowship, is arguably our most vital institution."

- Robert Vaughan

"Although I was plagued with countless bug bites and zero hours of sleep, I wouldn’t trade anything in the world to miss the glowing sunrise over Ice Box Bend while surrounded by some of the people that I care about most in this world.

The Small Point Summer School, the people I have met there, and the moments I have experienced there have been an integral part of shaping who I am. Throughout all the chaos that is my life back in Los Angeles and at school back east, the Summer School is a constant, something I can look forward to and know that it will always be there."

- Carly Bowman

"The costume room is always a draw and so in constant need of tidying. And that is what I love. Picking through the racks and cubbies, alone, usually at dawn. Searching for my old favorites each year to ensure they remain in one piece, and taking inventory. (Costuming on a budget requires dismantling and reimagining, after all.) The Hattie Carnegies with their exquisite tailoring and detailing, Cherry's mermaids from Peter Pan and Where the Wild Things Are creations, the top hat, the ball gowns and dinner jackets that I remember my children donning.

Just as I hope Small Point remains the same each summer, I always hope the same costumes—their colors still vibrant—will still be there each time I return."

- Sarah Cecil

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An Improved Vision for the Summer School

In determining the most appropriate future for SPSS's facilities, the Campaign Committee has relied on the wisdom and expertise of our community's many fine architects for providing a long-term vision and plan. We are fortunate to be working with Small Pointer Katie Winter, an architect specializing in educational spaces, to guide our specific renovation and building plans.

View from Brad's Barn: the new Explorers Building will be built to the right and slightly behind the existing Arts & Nature Building. Additional grassy outdoor play space gained by relocating the existing handicapped parking and repositioning fence.

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We Need You

Now more than ever, the Summer School serves as our community hub. The growing size of our collective Small Point family means more and more children are attending SPSS, and the rest of the community has come to rely on our facilities as a welcoming, communal resource with a unique atmosphere. It is time to address our aging infrastructure and to create a long term plan for its care. To survive and thrive, we need to pull together to secure a sustainable financial base for this cherished community institution.

We ask for your support.

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Thank You

The Capital Campaign Committee and the SPSS Board of Trustees thank you for your continued support of the SPSS and our mission.

Capital Campaign Committee

  • Dana Burton
  • Malcolm Coates
  • Amy Coes
  • Louise Hoffman
  • Jack Ijams
  • Anne Jackson
  • Shawn MacDonald
  • Miguel Martin
  • Trip McLaughlin
  • Ben Mitchell-Lewis
  • Doug Owen
  • Carol Terry
  • Lane Terry
  • Lee Warner
  • Erika Weidner

Steering Committee

  • Dana Burton
  • Shawn MacDonald
  • Ben Mitchell-Lewis
  • Doug Owen
  • Erika Weidner