John Alsop, Legal Lecturer for Staff Week, Mower in Chief at York’s Crossing, and Builder Extraordinaire
We’re in full swing getting the island ready for opening day and we couldn’t do it without the help of many volunteers, including former camper and counselor John Alsop. John is headed out to the island next week to help Ben finish up some crucial building projects, and he’ll be back the following week during staff orientation. John, a recently retired assistant attorney general for the State of Maine, generously joins us on the island after lunch one day each year to give an extremely helpful and enlightening short lecture to the counselors about to embark on six weeks of caring for 90 boys. He covers Maine law in general and as it relates to caregivers in particular.
In addition, John has volunteered for the past several years to execute a crucial step in preparing both the campsite and the game site for the War Game. John readily confesses that he is something of a heavy-equipment junkie. He owns and operates his own skidder and more recently has become owner of a commercial-grade riding mower, the perfect machine for mowing the War Game campsite, access roads, center of town, squadron paths, and the roads running out from each gate. A couple of weeks before the game and a week or so before the site is used for the Maine Woodsman/Junior Maine Woodsman testing trip, John comes out after work and mows acres of grass that has been growing since play was off the summer before. The result is something approaching an English park, and each year the grass gets more lush and beautiful. John and director Ben Swan have been discussing possible further improvements to the site.
Finally, John was part of the “A Team” who came out the Whitehead Light Station last fall to build the new workshop. Ben was awed by the speed and craftsmanship of the crew, and now that John has retired, Ben can’t wait wait to snag him for more building projects.
Over the past twenty years a remarkable number of opportunities to volunteer one’s time to benefit Pine Island Camp have become available, and the many who have participated all agree that being a volunteer is the best way to return to Pine Island. We’ll highlight a few of our amazing volunteers in the coming weeks, starting with Ned Bishop, PIC’s Volunteer-in-Chief.
Ned Bishop, camper, counselor, and long-time assistant director at Pine Island, began volunteering shortly after he retired as assistant director. Ned’s innumerable contributions focus on setting up camp and the logistically challenging days between the annual Declaration of War and a couple of days after the campers leave. As was recognized in his receiving the “Golden Clipboard” award several years ago, Ned is virtually indispensable when it comes to seeing to the details of opening and closing Pine Island. He is the author (and faithful updater) of Opening and Closing: The Manual, the handbook that contains all the lists and jobs that need to be done before Opening Day and before the whole place is closed for the winter. It is hard to describe fully how much director and assistant director stress is reduced when Ned is on the job, directing pre-camp work by the counselors, helping with War Game logistics (while also taking on a full umpiring load), and setting up everything we need to welcome 200+ people to the island for the Farewell Feed. Ned also made it up for the Sloan Critchfield Memorial Boat Maintenance Weekend this year and spent many hours sanding and painting. Ned is a fountain of knowledge and great stories about the recent and distant Pine Island past, and don’t make the mistake of being fooled by his friendly demeanor when you sit down after dinner for a game of cards!
We’ve been busy over the last several weeks taking care of the island, buildings, and boats and securing the camp for winter. Our annual Sloan Critchfield Boat Workshop Weekend was productive and fun, as always. Many thanks to our terrific volunteers who scraped and painted the boats. It’s not glamorous work, but it’s incredibly helpful. Our fleet is now tucked away and in pristine condition for next summer.
The day before our volunteers arrived the KWS was discovered by a Good Samaritan floating aimlessly around Oak Island. Ben retrieved the wayward launch and found that the heavy chain was still attached to the boat, along with the buoy. A D.I.V.E (Dive Investigate Verify Extract) team was dispatched during Sloan Weekend and found that a shackle had come undone down by the anchor. She is safe and sound, now, on the mainland for the winter.
Rhoads Miller, Rip Swan, and Dan (brother-in-law of Jay Steiner) repaired the embankment and replaced the top logs at the dory dock during the Boat Workshop Weekend.
Work completed on the south side of the kitchen building with a decorative flair provided by contractor Dan Trembly.
End of the line. Flower boxes loaded on the KWS at the kitchen dock. They will spend the winter in Brunswick and Emily will plant them again in the spring.
Heading for the public landing with the outboard in tow to meet Alan Drinkwater to haul out the KWS for the winter.