High on a hill two miles from Wardsboro center, Kathy Meeks, a farmer, nurse and grandmother, runs a picturesque 17-acre sheep farm that morphs into a day camp for boys and girls every summer. During the week-long sessions in July and August at Maybelle Farm, there is no canoeing, no archery, no swimming, no backpacking, and no campfire. The campers have only two activities throughout the day. First, hanging out in the meadows and barn with the sheep, a child-friendly flock of about fifty Shetland rams, ewes and lambs, and second, attending craft classes where they make things by hand with wool sheared from Maybelle’s sheep. That’s all there is to it. That and snack time, and kids love it.
“I made a mural out of wool at camp and I made a flower out of felt. The flower took a half-hour to make, then I went to see the sheep,” says 8-year-old Rowan Perry, who sums up her day in three words. “Camp is good.” A waifish little girl, she’s shy around people, but not at all around these big-bellied, sharphoofed, spiral-horned beasts that are three or four times her size. She calls the sheep by name—Opal, Snowflake, Lyra, Colby, Omega, Arly, Juliette, Tally—and hugs her favorites. For her next creative project, Rowan says she wants to make necklaces from wool-felted beads, a craft she learned at this camp last summer.
Kathy calls her program Fiber Fun Camp, but everyone shortens it to just Fiber Camp, which leads to a few comical misunderstandings that it’s some kind of diet-fad retreat. Sessions are split by age, mornings for 7- to 10-year-olds, and afternoons for ages 11 and up, and so a couple summers from now, Rowan will be doing more complex craft projects. She can hardly wait. Rowan’s younger brother, Declan Perry, only 5, is still too young to go to camp by himself, but he says when he’s old enough to attend, he wants to learn to knit. While visiting his sister and the other campers, Declan has already mastered spinning yarn on a small wheel in Maybelle’s studio.