An old photo of boys at Pine Island Camp.

100 Years of Pine Island Camp

“To give boys a healthful and beneficial summer outing, to clarify their minds and reinvigorate their bodies, to give them new life and new strength—in a word, to afford them an opportunity for re-creation, not merely recreation—is the purpose of Pine Island Camp.”
— Clarence Colby, Founder

Campers in 1904Pine Island Camp was founded in 1902 by Clarence Colby on Pine Island, a beautiful small island in Great Pond, the largest of the Belgrade Lakes in central Maine. Colby's original ideas and ideals are very much present at Pine Island today and the philosophy he established is as important and relevant to young people today as it was over 100 years ago. Independence coupled with a concern for others, cooperation, an intelligent sense of humor, honesty, and respect for the natural world and how to experience it safely are all things we strive to teach boys each summer.

Campfire circle in 1935Dr. Eugene L. Swan bought Pine Island Camp from Clarence Colby in 1908 and started building enrollment. An exponent of vigorous outdoor life and a pioneer in scouting, Dr. Swan laid down the outlines of our adventurous tripping program. His son, Eugene L. Swan Jr., took the helm in 1947. Jun, as Pine Islanders knew him, opened the Whitehead outpost and brought a master teacher's warmth, humor, and imagination to the camp. His exceptional ability to find common ground with any young person, despite the intervening decades, won Jun many close friends with both campers and counselors. After Jun's retirement, he and his wife Tats remained active in all aspects of Pine Island life until his death in February 2000 and hers in December 2002.

Jun, Emily, Ben and Tats SwanJun Swan's son Ben is now director. Born in the middle of the 1955 camp season, Ben spent his very earliest days at Pine Island. A camper, counselor, and assistant director for 9 years, and an experienced teacher, Ben has led Pine Island Camp and his wife Emily has served as business manager since 1990. They live on the island each summer, and their three children are all active members of the Pine Island community. Pine Island commemorated its 101st summer with a celebration on the island in August of 2002.

Photos: Pine Island campers in 1904, campfire circle circa 1910, and left to right: Jun, Emily, Ben and Tats Swan.