The Mayhew Program challenges and helps at-risk New Hampshire boys to believe in themselves, work well with others, and find their best. It is the only all-boys program in the state that combines a residential summer program and school year mentoring for at-risk boys, tuition-free, through high school graduation.
Year 1 -2
The Island Challenge
During the first two years, the boys (age 10-12) participate in a rigorous and vibrant 25-day residential summer program. From the first day to the last, the boys work together in small tight-knit groups, tackling steep physical, social and emotional challenges. For many of the boys, Mayhew is their first opportunity to find out who they can be and how much they can do in a setting away from outside influences. Between summers, the boys benefit from regular mentoring visits
with the staff in one-on-one and small group settings. The focus is on helping them apply the program ideals of respect, responsibility, community, and challenge to their lives at home, school and beyond.
Beginning in the third year, boys can participate in a five-day, adventure-based summer program. Trips include canoeing, backpacking, biking, and nature and wilderness skills training. Boys who are 14 or older may apply to work for Mayhew, earning a salary and a dollar-for-dollar matching scholarship for post-secondary educational pursuits. Between summers, the boys receive the same comprehensive school-year mentoring as in the first two years of the program.
In the final two years of the program, Mayhew focuses on supporting the boys through high school graduation, assisting them in establishing goals for their lives beyond high school, brainstorming ways to overcome barriers to success, and emphasizing the importance of giving back to Mayhew and the broader community.
The Island Challenge
During a boy’s 25-day summer camp experience on Mayhew Island, he is encouraged (and expected) to participate in challenging activities; he receives public praise and rewards for outstanding effort and improvement; and he is given the opportunity to establish for himself a new reputation in a fair and positive environment.
Through his experiences on the Island, Mayhew hopes that each boy learns that he can be successful; that he alone is responsible for his actions; and that he can be a valuable and respectful member of his community. Mayhew's structured setting, combined with frequent public praise and positive reinforcement, encourages increased self-worth, improved behavior, and high achievement.
On the Island, the boys participate in regular activities and meals as part of 7-member cabin groups. This provides ample opportunity to promote constructive group interactions.
Island Activities Include:
At daily work hours, boys work together on a variety of projects and are paid in "Mayhew money"—the Island currency—according to how well they work. Diligence, listening to and following instructions, and working as a team are emphasized. Boys get to spend their Mayhew money at the Mayhew Market.
Group athletics on the Island include softball, basketball, floor hockey, and soccer. The emphasis is placed on improvement, sportsmanship, and effort.
Rowing is practiced on the Island in basic 7-man dories and demands that the boys learn to work together as a unit to be successful.
Adventure utilizes team challenges in order to promote group cohesiveness, problem-solving, cooperation, and trust.
Mayhew is home to an extensive high-ropes challenge course including many unique and quite-challenging climbing elements.
Each group goes on two day-hikes throughout the session. The boys use this challenge to strengthen their role with their cabin group, to enjoy the natural splendors of the mountains, and to demonstrate their positive and supportive behavior outside the confines of the Island.
Swim instruction is conducted daily, taught by American Red Cross certified staff.
Mayhew's Arts program gives the boys a chance to express themselves creatively. A focus on teamwork is still central, and the boys are encouraged to collaborate on several different group projects.
An individual achievement program is conducted four days a week in the late-afternoon. Boys choose an activity to pursue from a variety of areas and can earn ribbons for demonstrated effort, knowledge and skill.
Every Wednesday and Saturday night we hold cookouts at individual cabin group sites around the Island. The cookouts are a fine time to relax as a group and take a break from the regular structure of the program.
Community Night, held twice a week after cookouts, is an opportunity for boys and staff to spend time together, share talents, and talk about the values that bind us together. We sing songs, tell stories, perform skits, and generally enjoy each other's company.
Every night a member of the senior staff stands with a lantern on the Good Night Tree Stump and shakes the hand of every boy in the community as they head off to their cabin for bed.
After two years, boys (ages 10-12) are invited to take the next step in the program by joining Link-Up for up to four more years.
Now called Links, these teens can participate in five-day, outdoor developmental adventure expeditions during the summer. Links are encouraged to challenge themselves physically and socially. It is by doing so that they learn to be more successful collaborators, more confident individuals, and important role models for the campers and younger Links in the program.
On expeditions, eight to nine Links are supported by three Expedition Leaders as they travel through and live in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, setting up their tents, making their own food, and practicing the social and emotional skills first learned on Mayhew Island.
During the expeditions, Links will spend four nights tent camping, typically in a tent with two or three others. Oftentimes, backcountry shelters are available, and depending on the expedition, composting toilets may or may not be available. Link-Up practices the ethics of Leave No Trace
Links can choose from basic or intermediate backpacking expeditions that explore the White Mountain National Forest. Links typically hike on or around the Appalachian Trail, the roughly 2,000-mile trail that stretched from Georgia to Maine.
Basic Canoeing with Mayhew explores some of the state's impressive lakes like Newfound, Squam, and Umbagog, while Intermediate Canoeing with Link-Up means paddling some of New Hampshire's rivers like the Baker, Pemigewasset,
Magalloway, and Androscoggin.
During mountain biking expeditions, Links learn the basics of double and singletrack riding as well as bike maintenance. This is the newest addition to the summertime choices for Links. Basic expeditions build skills and familiarity while intermediate expeditions include more singletrack riding and some bikepacking.