TURNER — Thirty-five years ago, Mary Seaman’s parents, Jo and Clint, out on a boat ride on Pleasant Pond, pulled up to The Great Outdoors and jokingly told the owners they were there to buy the sprawling former girls’ camp.

The couple got a call not long after.

Were they serious? Because it was for sale.

“Then, my parents gifted it to me — careful what you wish for . . . ” Seaman said.

She’s operated The Great Outdoors as a rustic event center, wedding spot, beach and cottage rentals for eight years, living not far from the enormous main hall.

During the school year, when she works as a McKinney-Vento homeless liaison at Lewiston High School, Seaman splits her time between the two roles.


When school’s out, even with two part-time helpers, the business becomes a 120-hours-a-week commitment, painting, mowing, gardening, greeting guests and holding showings.

It’s daunting, she said, but it’s also love.

“My roots go very deep here,” she said. “After leaving Lewiston High School, I come here and do mow therapy.”

The 60-acre former Camp Naiad has a large beach, cottages with names such as Fiddlehead and Cricket, and one year-round yurt for rent. She frequently hosts weddings on the weekends and said she starts each showing — she just had one for a 2017 wedding — by listing the five reasons you don’t want her spot for your big day.

It can be buggy. It can be cold. It can be hot. You set up and you cleanup afterward. Everything has to be lugged in.

She’s only had one couple walk.


Hurricane’s Cafe and Deli is her primary caterer, but couples are free to use anyone, she said. Some dress the great hall up, draping everything, some simply switch on the hundreds of strung lights at night, some do everything outdoors.

Some can’t resist a photo op with Turner’s largest Adirondack chair on her front lawn. It travels into town for the community’s Fourth of July celebration.

There are trees everywhere and a few gentle, rolling hills. There’s no WiFi on the grounds, no cable TV. It’s a spot to unplug and relax, Seaman said.

One family returned this year, renting a cottage for their 18th summer. She’s built lots of those relationships over the years. They send her Christmas cards and wish her good luck on opening day.

Long-term, she’d like to build a tree house and add eight to 10 more yurts to offer year-round.

Her big project this summer is a new deck on the main hall. A pair of doors that have lead to nowhere since it was built in the 1950s will now go somewhere, Seaman said.

She describes her late parents as workaholics. The apple didn’t fall far.

“I’d like it to succeed as a business, but I run it from the heart, that’s what people respond to,” Seaman said. “I’d like to see myself figure out how I can find that fine balance and not have to sell this. I can see Bali in the winter . . .”


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