Airstream at Searsport Campground_s

Trip Planning

Explore This Maine Campground's Unique Activities

Go RVing to this campground in Searsport, ME, and enjoy this lineup of fascinating summer activities, as developed by the Koltookian family!

Two generations of the Koltookian family have spent nearly seven decades enjoying RVing and camping in Maine. Zaven Koltookian, the 88-year-old Armenian patriarch of the family, owned and operated an RV dealership in Concord, New Hampshire for 30 years with his brothers, while taking their three children on camping trips to Big Bend National Park in Texas, the Florida Coast, and Mount Kearsarge in New Hampshire, among other destinations.

In 1994, they left the RV dealership and took on a new challenge when they purchased
Searsport Shores Oceanfront Camping, a 125-site campground overlooking Penobscot Bay in Searsport, Maine, which they run with their daughter, Astrig, and her husband, Steve Tanguay.

But while Maine has some of the most beautiful coastline in the Northeast, the family wasn’t content to simply offer a campground where guests could enjoy a quarter mile of private beach on weekends.

“We started with the premise that we wanted people to stay here longer than a night or two,” Astrig said. “We explored things we could offer that made us a little different than everybody else.”

Instead of offering typical summer family activities like Christmas in July, candy bar bingo or Halloween-themed weekends in August, the family developed an “artist in residence” program that features different classes and activities each week.

“Because we view campground ownership as much of a lifestyle as a business investment, we were keen to surround ourselves with interesting artisans who shared our sense of creative play,” Astrig explained, adding, “We wanted something that was truly authentic and reflective of our own interests. After many conversations around the picnic table, we decided to highlight the excellent craft and food traditions that are all around us in Maine.”

Astrig herself is a passionate and accomplished fiber artist, who designs, spins, weaves, knits, sews, and tends her small flock of sheep and goats, while Steve is a teacher, passionate gardener and string player who leads community jams in the campground every Wednesday afternoon during the summer months. As a result of their combined interests and efforts, Steve and Astrig have created a lineup of summer campground activities that is one of the most unique in the country. These include:

  • Natural Dyeing Kayak Building and Paddle Carving, June 23-29: Jim Hsiang will demonstrate how to make a traditional Greenland style, single person kayak with a canvas skin sewn over a handmade wooden frame. If time permits, Jim will also demonstrate how to hand carve paddles. While Jim occupies the woodshop, Jude will take over the Dye and print studio with her yarn and fabric projects.
  • Seeing and Sewing Like an Artist, July 7-12: Susan Bleignier, a textile artist and color enthusiast, will show guests how to use the beautiful grounds of Searsport Shores to find interesting shapes to record in handmade concertina books, which will be used as the inspiration to stitch a fabric or embroidery piece, using repurposed fabric and thread. Guests will use recycled materials and draw with watercolors, charcoal and markers, and later stitch over the print to add color and texture, creating a perfect art keepsake of your camping vacation!
  • Acrylic Painting, July 14-19: Acrylic painter Dan Dolce will teach guests who to create composition and paint in the style of famous painters. Guests are invited to join the ranks of Cezanne and Van Gogh as you use the natural landscape of Searsport Shores to create your own masterpiece, turning nature into cylinders, spheres, and cones. Practice seeing like an artist while playing with shape, color, and texture.
  • Asian Fusion Cooking and Art, August 4-10: This class is led by Chris Toy, a private chef, cooking instructor and author of six Asian fusion cookbooks. He also enjoys creating original mobiles and stabiles using recycled materials such as driftwood, shells, feathers, bicycle parts, and other materials.

While some artists return each summer, including “Santa Steve” and his “Chain Mail” workshops, Astrig said they like to infuse the program with new creative talent every year, always with the intention of offering programs that appeal to all ages and family configurations.

But there are some activities that have become so popular that the family does them every year. One of them is their traditional Armenian picnic, which takes place every year on the last Sunday of July.

The Koltookians and their extended family from across the country gather to not only serve traditional Armenian dishes, but to offer classes to teach their guests how to make Armenian food. From July 21-27, Barbara Ghazarian, who wrote the book, Simply Armenian, will show guests how to make delicious and healthy meals using home-grown vegetables as well as produce that’s available in the farm stands that line the roads of Maine. Barbara’s grand finale will be helping to prepare food for the Armenian picnic on July 28.

The picnic even features a local baker who has learned how to make lamajun, an Armenian flatbread. The picnic includes traditional desserts and Armenian coffee, as well as live music and dancing.

Of course, an Armenian picnic must include dancing in the garden.   “We partner with a local dance organization and bring dance instructors so that all of our guests can take lessons and enjoy the music with the community,” Astrig said. This summer’s Armenian picnic will feature music by Maine Kef Ensemble, whose musicians play music that has evolved from Armenian, Anatolian, Greek and Arabic traditions.

Over the years, the Koltookians have also invited Greek, Jewish, and Balkan musicians to perform at their Armenian picnics, further enhancing the cultural experience.

While offering their guests opportunities to experience Armenian food and culture, the Koltookian family also uses the picnic to raise funds to support a pottery education program for children in Berdavan, Armenia.

Last year, in fact, the Koltookians raised $1,000 in donations from their Armenian picnic, which they donated to the pottery program in Berdavan. When caught up with Astrig in May, she and her father had just returned from a trip to Armenia to see how their donations were being used.

“When we got to Berdavan, the excitement over our support for their pottery program was palpable,” Astrig said. “I never thought a thousand dollars could make that much of a difference. But, with our donation, 90 children got to make pottery for an entire year and their teacher got to go to college!”

Astrig’s grandparents fled to the U.S. during the Armenian Genocide of 1915 to 1923. Her father, Zaven, who was born in Concord, New Hampshire, traveled to Armenia to learn about their family’s history and the history of Armenia itself, a former Soviet republic. The Koltookians have also discovered new educational initiatives to support, including a library in Berdavan that needs help to expand its collection of books.

“They have a library with Russian paperbacks from 1990 and earlier. But the librarian told us they need books that will attract the grandparents because if the grandparents come, they’ll bring their grandchildren. They gave us a list of books they would like by Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Shakespeare, and Ernest Hemingway, among others. So, this year we will use part of the proceeds from our Armenian picnic to purchase children’s books for the library in Berdavan.”

The Koltookians have also used proceeds from their Armenian picnic to support other charities, including the World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that provides fresh meals to people suffering from humanitarian, climate, and community crises around the world.   

Steve and Astrig have also developed other events, such as Fiber College Retreats and Open Studio Sessions.  Their annual folk music retreat in mid-September, called “Strung Together,” raises money to help Carver Memorial Library to acquire and maintain instruments for its stringed instrument library. At the time of this writing, instruments available through the library included acoustic and electrical guitars, violins, banjos, mandolins, upright bass, an oud, ukeleles, and an accordion. Astrig said the instruments are available to anyone who would like to try out and learn to play, regardless of age or economic situation, for periods of up to six months.

Astrig said her family’s offering of unique artistic, culinary, and musical experiences has succeeded in enticing many of their guests to stay for weeks instead of days. “Our programs offer families a way to have unique experiences with one another,” she said.

Searsport Shores Oceanfront Camping complements its RV sites with rental trailers and cabins. More information is available at

Jeff Crider


Jeff Crider, President and CEO of Crider Public Relations, has been involved in covering the campground industry for over 25 years. Jeff has worked as a freelance writer for publications such as RV Business, Motor Home Magazine, Trailer Life, Highways and other Affinity Group Inc. publications since 1995. He has also successfully pitched many of the nation's top tier media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, Reuters, The Associated Press and National Public Radio. In addition to writing, Jeff is also a talented photographer and humanitarian.