From outhouse de-spidering to ultimate horseshoes, tell us about it

Parlisades – I’ve Googled it. It’s not a real card game. And every time I teach it to friends, they have never seen anything like it. But that’s my camp tradition. I don’t know how it began, where it came from and how it might have morphed over the years, but every time my older sister Jillian and I visit my father’s rustic hunting camp on the island of Islesboro, Maine, we play Parlisades.

Photo by Heather Leonard. Aislinn Sarnacki celebrates a well-made fire on Islesboro during the summer of 2010.

First, we debate over the rules, because usually a year has passed since the last time we played it. It’s rather complicated, as card games go. Think of it as a combination of “Speed” and “President” (the Americanized version of Dai Hin Min), but slower and more reliant on luck. It has definitely evolved over the years.

At the island hunting camp – a trailer with an addition, unreliable plumbing, rickety bunk beds and tens of deer heads mounted on the walls – we learned how to make our own fun without the conveniences of a TV, PlayStation or a proper toilet. As a girl, I looked forward to a weekend of searching for sand dollars, cooking breakfast on the grill, playing horseshoes and (especially on the rainy days) sitting down to a game of Parlisades.

So now it’s your turn.

We at the BDN Outdoors desk want to hear about your camp traditions. What do you find yourself doing every year while spending a long weekend in relaxation at your camp?

Send your stories to or, and we just might share your traditions with fellow readers in the print and/or online version of the BDN. Also, feel free to send a few photos of your days at camp, whether it’s by the lake, deep in the woods or on Maine’s rocky coast. You can also send your story and photos in an envelope to the address: ATTN Aislinn Sarnacki or ATTN John Holyoke, 491 Main St., Bangor, Maine, 04401. We look forward to hearing from you (sooner rather than later).

Photo by Aislinn Sarnacki. Walking to a rock formation on Islesboro is another camp tradition of the Sarnacki sisters. They call the formation called "Eagle's Eye."

*** Parlisades: If you want to know how to play Parlisades, try to follow along. Players start with four cards faced down in front of them (that they haven’t seen) and four cards placed on top of those cards, face up (so everyone can see). They can’t touch those cards until they get rid of the cards in their hand. The remaining cards in the deck is divided between the players. Ace is high. If you lay down a 2, you can lay any card on top of it. If you lay down a 10, it clears the deck. Then players to the left of the dealer starts by laying down his or her lowest card (but not a 2, considering that is a prized card). The turn rotates to the left. Players can’t play out of turn. The next player must place a card of equal or higher value on the pile or he/she must take all of the cards in the pile. If you have two, three or four of the same number, you can place them all down. Four of the same number placed down at the same time will clear the pile (giving everyone a sigh of relief). The last eight cards are played the same way, but are much more difficult to get rid of, considering everyone in the game can see your first four cards and you’re playing a guessing game with the last four cards. *** 

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at