We accept 85-90 campers each summer and we employ almost 50 staff members. So, our camper:counselor ratio is nearly 2:1. The camper:counselor ratio in each tent is 4:1.
Hand-written letters! Each camper's "ticket" to Sunday dinner is a letter home. Staff members help any boy who needs help writing letters. A mail boat comes to the island six days a week to pick up and drop off mail.
Yes. Care packages are allowed and welcomed, though not necessary. Some families send hometown newspapers, books, home-cooked goodies, crossword puzzles, etc. (No candy or store-bought food is allowed.)
Our retention rate is 88%.
Yes. There are thousands of Pine Island alums around the globe working in a variety of professions. We stay in touch through our winter newspaper, various forms of social media and at reunions.
No, we do not offer specific visiting days because they do not fit well into Pine Island's busy schedule of camping trips. Families are invited to visit any time after the first two weeks of camp.
Because of Pine Island's size, staff notice immediately if a boy is homesick and takes steps right away to help him through it. If a boys is very homesick or is homesick for more than a couple of days, director Ben Swan will discuss strategies with his parents on the phone.
There is a medic on staff who is certified in emergency medicine. Many other staff members are certified Wilderness First Responders. The nearest hospital is in Waterville, a 15-minute drive from Pine Island, and the town of Belgrade's very capable emergency service is just a few minutes away if needed.
The campers do! Each morning each boy signs up for the two activities that he wants to do that day. Boys are encouraged to try all of Pine Island's activities and most boys continue to do a variety of activities while focusing more attention on the two or three that they really enjoy.
Campers live on Pine Island without electricity. They pump water from the well to fill their water bottles and to brush their teeth. They use flashlights and lanterns at night. There is electricity in the kitchen, which operates the refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashing machine, and provides running water for the kitchen crew.
The majority of our counselors were campers at Pine Island. Almost all of the rest are referred to us by current and recent staff members. Director Ben Swan visits campuses of colleges that have produced top-notch counselors for Pine Island, where he meets and interviews prospective counselors.
All staff participate in our training program during the 10 days before the campers arrive on the island. Staff training covers health and safety, trip leading, teaching activities, working with children, and more. Most of our staff receive Maine trip leader certification at the end of this training and many earn Wilderness First Responder certification in courses offered at Pine Island Camp or elsewhere. Waterfront staff receive WSI and Lifeguard certification before arriving at camp for our intensive in-camp training.
In light rain, activities go on. During heavy rain, campers gather in Honk Hall, or the dining hall, two of several hard-roofed buildings on the island. They can play ping-pong or board games, write articles for the camp newsletter, read in the library, or take activities such as shop and fly-tying that can be conducted indoors. Director Ben Swan monitors NOAA weather radio for updated forecast information. When severe thunderstorms are predicted, campers are moved into Honk Hall or the dining hall.
Pine Islanders rave about the food our kitchen turns out! We use fresh ingredients as much as possible, with food service deliveries three times a week and produce deliveries twice a week from a local organic farmer. The selection of locally sourced meat and other products offered by our suppliers is growing every year and we continue to add what we can. Meals are served family-style at Pine Island, and fresh fruit, vegetables or a salad are part of every meal. Between meals, healthy snacks like fruit and trail mix are available in the dining hall.