Category Archives: The Pine Needle

Innovation, Imagination, and Intrigue: A Summer of Sensational Saturday Night Shows – Part III

By Corinne Alsop

For the third show of the 2018 season, both groups of Expedition Campers, sixteen in all, directed by XCamp leaders Ian Ford, Satchel Toole, Nick Miller, and Cole Gibson, produced eX-Camper, based on the movie Big. The curtain opens on an alternate Pine Island universe in which counselors Matt Miller and Noah Brodsky (Sawyer Carson and Alex Lanoff) are wreaking havoc upon island life. Carson and Lanoff’s confident and audible performances brought life to their portrayals of the goofy pair. Miller’s own tent experiences the worst of the abuse of power: Will Napolitano, Tom Straus, and David Austin (themselves) suffer nobly through Miller’s treatment. Ben Brill, leading the first half of the show with his usual charm, gave a memorable performance as himself. Soon, Brill meets the stuffed cow genie, played with whimsy and excellent comedic timing by David Donoghue, who offers to grant Brill a single wish. The next morning, they awaken as fully-fledged counselors: Cole Wofford fearlessly takes on the role of Counselor David Austin, Garrett Gellert as the charismatic Counselor Ben Brill. But being a counselor is not as easy as it once seemed: in a single day, they’re accosted by a nervous mother (Alex Dhawan) and her first-year camper (Dylan Ashby), who hilariously list their concerns with the son’s many allergies. Austin is awakened by his camper (Anders Westermann) and learns he has overslept on his OD day. Other campers, played by Alex Sidorsky and Alex Desjonqueres, make life miserable with constant questions throughout his day. Even payday is a disappointment – Emily Swan (Anders Westermann) distributes paychecks that are a meager seventeen dollars. The pair wish desperately to return to their original camper form, and with lesson learned, the wish is granted. Through this show, the Expedition Campers proved their ability to work as a team to create something sensational. 

Sixty Years Ago

By Montague G. Ball, Jr.  

This past camp season was a milestone for everyone at Pine Island—another great summer for campers, counselors, and everyone else connected with PIC.  Even here, in the far reaches of northern Thailand, there were reports of splendid weather, vigorous activities on the mainland as well as on Great Pond, epic trips, brilliant campfires, and entertaining Saturday Night Shows.  Although the island is quiet now, those happy memories will abide—and last a lifetime.  Indeed, they remain with me still, reminders that exactly 60 years ago this past June I arrived for my first summer at PIC.

I was most unlikely counselor material, never having spent a night outdoors in my life.  The only reason Ben Swan’s father hired me (sight unseen!) was that I came on the recommendation of my college roommate, Monroe Baldwin from Lynchburg, Virginia—who had acquitted himself creditably the previous summer. It also helped that I was attending the same college which Jun Swan himself had attended, the University of Virginia.  More likely, Jun needed counselors, and Roe pointed out to him that I was available. As usual, I had made no summer plans—never being one to think very far ahead.

My parents had made their plans, however—a trip to Europe, leaving the family Pekingese in my care.  (“Pine Island sounds like a great place for the dog,” my father said—not knowing that Jun Swan couldn’t abide them.)  Anyway, in early June I struck out for the State of Maine in my ’53 Ford, turning on the car heater upon crossing the border from New Hampshire.  It had been a brief spring; only the birches had leaves. Tourists were few, and there was almost no traffic north of Portland.  At Augusta I followed Routes 8 and 11 where they forked at the camp road. Pine Island’s sign pointed the way. Someone had forgotten to take it down at the end of the previous summer…

The camp road was in awful shape. A rugged winter had heaved boulders; potholes were deep; shoulders had vanished.  Even more disconcerting, there was no trace of any vehicles coming or going. Who was looking after this place, I wondered.  Turns out, nobody…  Anyway, arriving at the mainland shore, there was not a sign of life—but from Roe Baldwin’s description (and a famous PIC post card) I recognized the signal.  Duly hoisting notice of my arrival, I sat on a bench and waited—wondering how a boat could land without a dock.  An hour or so passed with no launch to my rescue; the dog and I were starting to worry.

And just about that time, I heard a car coming down the camp road.  It was an ancient Chevrolet station wagon with luggage strapped to the roof, towing a splay-wheeled trailer behind.  A man with his bow tie askew leaned out the window from behind the wheel and said, “Hi, I’m Jun Swan.  Who are you?” The owner and his wife had arrived, and I had beaten them to camp!

My dog and I were led through a dark forest to the Rink—a wet and muddy trek that neither the dog nor I enjoyed. Loaded with the Swans’ luggage, I looked around for a light switch—but, of course, no electricity.  In a wood stove, Mrs. Swan built a fire, then opened a #10 can of pork and beans.  My first meal in Maine!  By now it was cold and dark.  I found my way to a bunkroom upstairs, borrowed a sleeping bag, and told the dog in no uncertain terms, “We’re not staying!  First thing tomorrow morning, we’re out of here.”  No objection from the Peke.

And, of course, I did stay. Morning brought a great breakfast in the nearby town of Oakland.  The sun came out, and it warmed up a lot.  More counselors appeared, and before I even realized it, I was wholeheartedly involved in opening camp and Another Great Summer.  I returned for three more seasons, then directed Pine Island for 20 years.  It all seems like yesterday to this old man who now lives on the other side of the world…

Jun Swan’s words echo in my ears: 

Akka Lakka! Rigga Jigga!

Summer’s big—and getting bigga…

Director Monte Ball, c. 1975.

Innovation, Imagination, and Intrigue: A Summer of Sensational Saturday Night Shows – Part II

By Corinne Alsop

The second Saturday Night Show of 2018 brought a charming adaptation of Boyhood entitled Buckhood. This show was written, directed, and narrated by seasoned Pine Island thespian and senior camper Buck Livingston. Teddy Mottur takes the stage, portraying the charming Young Buck. Soon, he meets Ben Swan (Victor Clamageran). Clamageran’s Swan is strong and captivating. Young Buck then finds his way to tentmate David Effron, whose welcoming attitude is portrayed well by Eamonn Daniels. Eventually, Young Alex Lanoff (Ben Lew) and Young Will Napolitano (Luke Beatie) enter the scene: the trio of actors’ camaraderie and goofiness parallels the real-life bond between the three boys. They begin their rise to fame as campfire performers in the skit series “The Expandables,” which in real life extended over five summers. Then Buck (Max Klivans), Lanoff (Alec Ritchie), and Napolitano (Arthur de Rochefort) take the stage as the winsome threesome, a few years older and wiser, while they struggle through a heroic downfall, which includes a terrible Maine Woodsman experience, campwide skit-fatigue, and the trio’s breakup because of Expedition Camp. Klivans, Ritchie, and de Rochefort bring truth and maturity to their portrayal of the tragic heroes. The mood is kept light and jovial, however, through Livingston’s expertly written and delivered narration. And it’s a happy ending for all: the trio is asked to produce one last skit that earns them such fame and glory that Ben Swan asks Buck to take over his job as Director, with Lanoff and Napolitano as Assistant Directors. A heartwarming tale, expertly acted, narrated, and directed entirely by campers. 

PIC Goes to the World Cup

By John Treadwell, age 13

It’s a rare occasion when Pine Island campers get to watch T.V.  But for two days in July a small group of campers got to go to Applebee’s in Waterville to watch World Cup games.

Saturday, July 7th started as a normal day at camp waiting in the activity line when Sumner asked to talk to me.  He told me that since I had listened faithfully to many World Cup games on the radio, I could go watch the semifinal game between France and Belgium.

Tense moments listening to the World Cup

Our group consisted of all the French boys and a few other faithful World Cup followers.  We also got to watch the finals on Sunday, July 15, when France and Croatia played.  All the French boys went crazy when France won the World Cup.  France had only won once before in 1998.  It was great to share this exciting victory with the French campers.  We were greeted by the cheers of the whole camp when we returned to the island after Sunday’s game.

World Cup fans are welcomed back to Pine Island

This article was first published in the 2018 edition of The Mid-Summer Pine Needle and most recently in the 2019 edition of The Pine Needle.