Though assessing a property tax on nonprofit summer camps may, on the surface, seem like a good idea, a little homework on its overall and long-term effects seems due.

I know many people who live or summer in Maine as a result of their experiences with a Maine summer camp.

My husband came here over 40 years ago as a camp counselor at a nonprofit camp, where he fell in love with Maine’s natural beauty and friendly atmosphere. We own properties, support our local economy and still volunteer at that same camp.

In addition to a regular camp season, this particular camp has a tuition-free week for Maine boys. Boys who are considered to be good citizens and leaders are able to relax, play, learn skills and create memories that they will carry into their adult lives.

This program – as well as part of the regular camp – is funded through donations and grants, a large portion of which are provided by former campers and their families. In addition, many campers go on to become counselors and camp staff.

Beyond camp, local businesses derive a portion of their incomes from camp staff, visiting families and campers themselves. Many families (including my own) now vacation in Maine because of their child’s camp experience!

Assessing property taxes on nonprofit camps may force camps to either close their doors or raise their fees to a rate that is out of reach for many families.

Although these camps may be nonprofit, they contribute to our economy by drawing young people to our state as campers and camp employees, and by drawing their families here, too. Every one of them is a potential taxpayer, business owner, summer resident, tourist  or retiree – and, therefore, a potential contributor to our economy.

Jo Harrison