Category Archives: preparing for camp

New Floating Dock System

Director Ben Swan and his son, alumnus Rip Swan, took a trip up to Pine Island this week to take final measurements for the new floating dock system.

Rip doing final measurements where the dock will be floating

Rip taking final measurements where the dock will be floating. (Pine Island is visible in the background)

The mainland dock (shown below) has always been a huge pain in the neck to install, and it’s not quite as wide as we would like. While carrying gear, we need to walk single file, or risk falling in.

Our mainland dock as seen last summer. It's much too narrow for our needs.

Our mainland dock as seen last summer.

Generous gifts from former dock builders have provided the funds to construct a very robust floating dock system that will be delivered and installed in June.  The entire system will be lifted out of the water every fall, along with the swim float and the boathouse floating dock.  Veteran Mainland Dock builders (pictured below) will truly appreciate this new system.  And we’ll all benefit from a wider mainland dock.

These guys are only working on the first section and you can see they are already not feeling happy. And, veteran Mainland Dock builders will notice the beginnings of the dreaded north wind.

A past mainland dock installation: These guys are only working on the first section and you can see they are already not feeling happy. And, veteran Mainland Dock builders will notice the beginnings of the dreaded north wind.

Pine Islanders Benefit Daily from Burgeoning Relationship with Local Farm Family

Pine Island has a well-deserved reputation for serving good food. Over the past 20 years or so, we have seen huge improvements in the quality of ingredients available to us, frequency of delivery, and our storage capacity. These factors, combined with the hard work, skill, and ingenuity of our cooks, have produced continual improvement in the quality and variety of meals at Pine Island and ensure a memorable culinary experience every summer at PIC.

Beginning three summers ago, we upped our game even more when we began a supply relationship with organic farmer Trent Emery of nearby Wayne, Maine. Emily Swan met with Trent in the winter of 2013 to talk about the kinds of produce Pine Island usually buys and to explore ways to line up the PIC season with Trent’s production schedule.  Trent has tailored his offerings to suit our tastes, and every year he brings a greater variety of products to market earlier and earlier, no mean feat in Maine, where even in mid-June the memory of winter is still very fresh in our minds.

Now we get all our greens – lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale and chard – from Emery Farm, and salads are a daily fixture at the Pine Island table. Trent even manages to conjure tomatoes by mid-June and we spend the summer blissfully free of the flavorless, pale excuses for tomatoes we used to buy from Sysco.   Sugar snap peas are a common snack early in the summer, and fabulous Maine strawberries found their way to our table more than once last summer. By early July we are getting cucumbers, cabbage, onions, potatoes, squash, broccoli, beets and their greens, green beans, carrots, scallions, and much more. We even managed to squeeze in fresh, local corn on the cob at a meal or two before the camp season ended.

In addition to the beautiful local produce we buy from Emery Farm, we have also begun to see a little more local food available through Sysco, our regular supplier. Most notable is Maine Family Farms beef, which is locally produced and a noticeable improvement over what we used to get from Sysco.

Emery Farm delivers to Pine Island twice a week, combining our deliveries with those made to a larger camp in the Belgrade area. Trent, his wife Alicia, and his farm hands were so busy keeping the produce coming last summer that most deliveries were made by his grandparents, who had been pressed into service on the busy farm! It takes a village . . . .! We are already looking forward to next summer’s delicious, nutritious harvest and thank Trent and his farm family for bending over backwards to keep the good stuff coming.

Pine Island Camp recruits local Sail Maker to Craft Canvas Tents

Throughout the off-season we work to make sure the Pine Island experience is the best it can possibly be for campers and staff.  We work hard to fine exceptional staff, we work with local farmers to secure fresh fruits and vegetables during the camp season, and every year we undertake projects to maintain the buildings and grounds at Pine Island and Whitehead Island.  There are so many details, all of which are important and most of which are hardly noticeable, but together they lay the foundation for another great summer at PIC.  Among these details, are the tents.  Campers and staff spend their summers sleeping in canvas wall tents and it’s critical that the tents be sturdy and sound.  Over the years our tents have undergone a series of changes, always improving.

For many years our tents were manufactured by a company in Indiana.  Last year we called to order two more tents and found that the Indiana company had sold their tent division to a company in California. While manufacturing canvas wall tents is not exactly a high-growth industry, we thought that maybe we could find someone a bit closer to home to make tents for us.   With help from girls’ camp Alford Lake, we found Bohndell Sails of Rockport, ME. Bohndell has been making tents for Alford Lake for many generations and was eager to make them for us. Director Ben Swan brought an old tent to the Bohndell facility to use as a template and they set to work. The result was two beautiful tents with all the features we need to make the tents weatherproof. The tents performed beautifully and as an unexpected bonus they let in more light through the canvas.   Campers and staff alike pronounced the Bohndell tents a great success! We will be ordering two more tents this winter.