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ELL Camp

English first. Fun second. Friends forever.

Improve your English, experience American culture, develop your independence, and make friends for life at the Thornton Academy English Language Learners Camp. Held on Thornton Academy's beautiful campus, the ELL program features classes in the mornings and two activities per day in the afternoons and evenings. 

All classes are taught by experienced Thornton Academy teachers. Develop your English Language skills in Communication class. Explore the ocean and marine ecology in STEM class. Learn how to research, create independent thoughts, and write a quality thesis statement in Introduction to Research class. 

Afternoon and evening activities encourage students to discover American culture, have fun, and explore topics from the morning classes. One day, we might visit an art museum. The next, we learn about lobstering as we go out in a lobster boat in Casco Bay. 

Dates for 2020: July 25 - August 22

Fees: $3,000 / 2 weeks or $6,000 / 4 weeks

It was an absolute pleasure being a part of the ELL summer camp this year! To witness the bonds form between these students through the shared experiences of the program was truly something special. 

corey bryant, ell program teacher 

girls kayaking on a river surrounded by green trees
friends give the peace sign
smiles with a goat in the middle of a field
rafting on the kennebec river
presenting a research project on AI

What's the ELL Program Like?

Class Descriptions

STEM class

This rigorous class will prepare students for the experiments, lab reports, research, independent thinking, and analysis required in STEM classes. It will feature lessons in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and take advantage of Thornton Academy’s modern and extensive STEM facilities. Learn by doing and prepare for the rigors of high school science and mathematics.

Academic Research class

Success in humanities courses is based on effective written and oral communication. This class will teach students the American education system including original thought, synthesizing texts, conducting effective research, and expressing your ideas through proper, academic writing. It will prepare students for success in American high school or university.

Communication Class

Find your voice! Communication class centers around oral communication: speaking and listening in English. Develop skills to feel confident talking to your peers, teachers, and in class. This class is FUN and filled with activities that get you up and talking. You will document your stay at Thornton Academy through an interactive presentation that cumulates learning from the class.  


Sample Daily Schedule

7:00am - Wake up, shower, get ready for a great day!

7:30am - Breakfast in the dining commons

8:00am - ELL & American culture class - today we study folk tales and cultural values

9:00am - Intro to Research class - today we learn about how to write a thesis statement

10:00am - STEM class - today we learn about Maine's lobster fishing industry

11:00am - Study Hall - time to work on your research paper

12:00pm - Lunch in the dining commons

2:00pm - Lobster boat cruise! Catch your own lobster and learn about these interesting animals.

4:00pm - Free time for shopping!

5:30pm - Dinner in the dining commons

7:00pm - Mini-golf and ice cream. Compete with your friends and enjoy a delicious treat!

9:00pm - Dorm Hangout time - play games, call your family, relax

10:30pm - Lights out - get lots of sleep for another busy day tomorrow!

What's included in the cost?

What's included?

  • Three meals on weekdays and two meals on weekends 
  • Boarding in our modern dormitories with two students per room
  • Health insurance 
  • Activity fees for two activities each day 
  • Local transportation 
  • Airport transfer (select dates only)
  • Class materials 

What's not included?

  • Flights to / from the United States 
  • Snacks 
  • Souvenirs
  • Other incidental costs


headshot of rebecca wittman, communication class teacher
Rebecca Wittman, Communication Class

Rebecca Wittman plans games and activities to help her students learn English cooperatively. She wants them to feel comfortable as they work towards written and oral fluency. She earned a BA degree from the University of Maine in Secondary Education - History. During the academic year at Thornton Academy, Ms. Wittman teaches TOEFL prep classes and advises the debate team. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, and playing miniature golf.

head shot of summer STEM teacher Corey Bryant
corey bryant, stem class

Mr. Bryant received a BS degree in environmental science and certification in GIS technologies from the University of Southern Maine. Mr. Bryant is also completing his MS in education through the University of Southern Maine. Mr. Bryant has a variety of field work and laboratory experience in the fields of marine biology and environmental science, partnering with NOAA, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Friends of Casco Bay, University of Tampa, University of Hawaii Manoa, & University of Southern Maine, Dept. of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. His research ranges from oceanographic data collection and analysis off the coast of Hawaii, spatial & temporal diets of rainbow smelt in the Penobscot River Estuary, water quality analysis, marine invertebrate zoology/ecology, and access to environmental education in the Casco Bay watershed.

Mr. Bryant enjoys hiking, surfing, being on the coast, and camping in his free time. You can usually find his trusty companion, Charles Darwin (american bulldog) by his side on his outdoor excursions. 

head shot of summer research teacher Nathan McKenney
Nathan mckenney, research class

During the academic year, Mr. McKenney teaches in the History and Social Sciences Department and lives on campus with his wife and young daughter. He earned his B.A in History and his M.S.Ed in Teaching and Learning from the University of Southern Maine. He earned his Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study from Saint Joseph’s College with an interdisciplinary focus in school leadership. In addition to academics, Mr. McKenney was Vice President of the International Relations Association and has served as the Under Secretary General and Board Member for the Maine Model United Nations Conference. For fun, he enjoys Brazilian Jiu Jitzu, hiking, rock climbing, and snowboarding.



Students live in Thornton Academy’s modern dormitories in double placement. The dormitories have bathrooms, laundry, kitchen, and lounges for studying and socializing. Staying in the dorm is one of the most important and fun parts of the program. Hang out with your new friends and practice your conversational English. 

Meals are held in the Atkinson Dining Commons. Three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) are served on weekdays while two meals (brunch and dinner) are served on weekends. Occasionally, we will eat off-campus with either a bagged lunch or at a restaurant during a longer excursion. The dining staff prepares delicious, healthy food for our students and staff. They can make adjustments for any dietary concerns, just let us know before you arrive on campus!


Summer at Thornton Academy is FUN! We do two activities per day: one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. Weekends mean no classes and trips off-campus that explore the beauty of Maine. 

Afternoon activities include:

  • Hiking 
  • Lobster boat cruise
  • Soccer tournament
  • Visits to universities
  • Swimming at the beach
  • Amusement parks and more!

Evening activities include:

  • Bonfire & s’mores,
  • Basketball tournament,
  • Art projects,
  • Trivia night,
  • Watching the sunset at the beach and more!

Weekend activities

  • Trips to Boston to visits to MIT and Harvard,
  • Hiking in beautiful state and national parks
  • Taking a ferry boat to a remote ocean island 
  • Whitewater rafting and more!


Two friends on a boat on the ocean