Welcome to Pine Island Camp
Today, with hundreds of summer programs available, a summer at Pine Island remains very much as it was a century ago and intentionally different from most camp experiences. A season at Pine Island is designed to help boys ages nine to fifteen develop self-confidence: campers have the independence to make substantial choices, the support of a community built on shared values, and enough time away to feel both truly on their own and an integral part of the community they’ve helped create.
Whether your son is shy or gregarious, big or small, this camp will challenge him to be at his best in the varied circumstances of simple outdoor living, albeit under the close supervision of our caring staff. Generations of Pine Islanders have found their summers at camp to be among the most meaningful of their lives.
The more you learn about this magical place, the less surprising you will find the fact that it all happens on a tiny wooded island in a pristine, quiet lake in central Maine.
Welcome to Pine Island Camp.
Independence coupled with a concern for others, honesty, generosity, good humor, and the ability to find joy in life — these are the qualities we want for our campers. Our purpose is to give boys an adventurous, happy, and safe summer experience where they can find these all-important qualities within themselves. To this end, Pine Island Camp keeps its enrollment small, its program challenging and imaginative, and its life simple, unplugged, and close to nature.
“There are no adequate words to thank you for providing our son with this summer. His step has never been lighter and more sure-footed. He’s never been more present and centered. Never happier.”
A Full Season Experience
Dates & Tuition
Dates: June 28 – August 11, 2024
Traditional Camp Tuition: $10,750
Expedition Camp Tuition: $11,500
Tuition for both programs increases by $250 after Nov. 30
Pine Island Camp offers partial and full scholarships to families who are not able to pay the full tuition. Scholarship funds are limited, so if you are interested in this option we encourage you to contact Sumner Ford as soon as possible.
Why is PIC six weeks long; why isn't there a shorter session?
What is the application process?
I love your camp, but my son has hesitations. Any suggestions?
Committing to a summer away is difficult. There are countless reasons why a boy may be nervous to make the leap of faith to attend Pine Island. Most nine- to fiftteen-year-old boys are not ready to make this decision. The benefits of independence, making new friends, and entertaining oneself without screens are difficult to grasp for potential campers. If you are interested in your son attending Pine Island, we recommend following these steps:
- Attend a Zoom or in-person gathering with returning families and Director Sumner Ford. These are terrific opportunities to build excitement about camp.
- Ask us to connect you with a returning family. Our camp families are happy to meet with new families to help form friendships before camp begins.
- Regardless of your son’s hesitation, it’s well worth meeting 1:1 with Sumner. He can help bring the joy of being a camper at Pine Island to life, and address your son’s specific reservations.
I love your camp, but can’t convince my spouse/partner to let our son go. Any suggestions?
The book Homesick and Happy by Michael Thompson is an excellent read. It can help parents to see the time away at camp as a gift rather than a burden. Many parents feel they’re doing their best for their children by keeping them close. Childhood is short, and they don’t want to miss any of it. We understand. But boys who spend their summers at Pine Island learn and grow in ways that they can’t with their parents. They learn to advocate for themselves and take care of themselves. They make friends from around the world, are introduced to positive role models, and become a part of a community that accepts and welcomes them as they are. Pine Islanders return home more confident, resilient, and filled with stories and experiences that are all their own. Parents repeatedly tell us that the six weeks of separation brings them closer as a family. After sharing letters throughout the summer, they reunite at the end of each season, refreshed and renewed, with new stories to share.
Your camp looks perfect for my son, but part of the season conflicts with his sports commitments. Can he come for a shorter session?
Can we be connected with current camp families before we sign our son up for camp?
How many campers do you accept each year, and where do they come from?
How is healthcare managed at Pine Island? Where is the nearest hospital?
How is healthcare managed on trips?
Are there ticks on the island? How are boys protected against ticks and mosquitoes?
Fortunately, there are no ticks on Pine Island, and a gentle breeze ensures very few mosquitoes. However, there are ticks and mosquitoes in the woods throughout New England. On trips and during mainland activities, we ensure that all campers use bug spray, on skin and especially on clothing. We use effective and safe DEET-free bug repellents. We have regular tick check protocols for boys doing mainland activities, at Whitehead Island, and out on other trips, and we also perform periodic camp-wide tick checks. It’s part of life in New England – wear bug spray and check for ticks.
If we find a tick attached to your son we: 1) remove it; 2) record the date and the area on the body that it was attached; 3) begin monitoring for symptoms of Lyme disease – this continues throughout the summer; and 4) call you. If it appears that the tick has been embedded for some time, we will take your son in immediately for medical attention.
How do I communicate with my son during the summer?
Hand-written letters! Each camper’s “ticket” to dinner on Sundays and Wednesdays is a letter home. A mail boat comes to the island six days a week to pick up and drop off mail. For many of your boys, this will be their first experience writing letters. Our counselors will help boys who need assistance writing letters, but it’s helpful to start talking about this at home before camp.
While some boys enjoy writing long, descriptive letters, many parents have received one-liners, often along the lines of: “Please send cookies. Thanks.” If you’ve received a letter like this, or you know your son can be less than forthcoming with his thoughts, please talk with him before camp about the things you’ll hope he’ll write home about. It may be helpful to send him to camp with a list of ideas written down in a notebook you send with him to camp, or taped onto the inside of the lid of his trunk. (For example: What activities have you been enjoying? What ranks are you working on? Have you gone on any trips lately? What have you been doing during rest hour? Are you having any problems? If so, have you mentioned them to your counselor or Sumner? What solutions are you working on? What has been your favorite meal so far? And so on.)
Remind your son that letters don’t have to be long and eloquent. They can be in the form of a (hand-written) text, or a cartoon, or a simple drawing with a caption – anything that conveys a bit about what he’s been doing and/or how he’s been feeling.
Finally, pre-addressing envelopes with your home address and the addresses of friends and loved ones is helpful. You can also draw a template of an envelope in the front of your son’s notepad – anything to remove potential roadblocks to writing a letter. And once camp begins, you can help your son by modeling the type of letters you hope to receive. Letters to and from camp are treasures!
How is homesickness managed?
How will I know if my son is doing okay?
Where do you find your summer staff? How are they vetted?
How are staff members trained?
Who decides campers' daily schedules?
What type of food is served at camp?
Is there electricity on Pine Island?
Does PIC have any unique traditions?
What is your camper/staff ratio, and how many campers return to PIC each summer?
Pine 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.
Dr. Eugene L. Swan bought Pine Island Camp in 1908. An exponent of a vigorous outdoor life and a pioneer in the camping movement, Dr. Swan laid down the outlines of our adventurous tripping program and many of the unique traditions that define Pine Island. His son, Eugene L. Swan, Jr., took the helm in 1947 and was actively involved with the camp until his death in 2000. Jun, as Pine Islanders knew him, opened the Whitehead Island outpost and brought a master teacher’s warmth, humor, and imagination to the camp. Montague G. Ball, Jr., a career educator, led the camp through the 1970s and 1980s and was renowned for his humor and masterful storytelling.
Jun’s son, Ben, a camper, counselor, and assistant director and also an experienced teacher, became director in 1990, along with his wife Emily as business manager. Together they saw the camp into its second century, now as a not-for-profit organization, and have worked with the board of directors to create a smooth transition to the next generation of Pine Island leaders. With Sumner Ford, Pine Islander since the age of nine, as director, and veteran staffer Sarah Hunter as communications director, Pine Island’s long tradition of strong leadership continues.
“Your letters about our child are inevitably thorough, caring, and on point. You have a way of addressing even issues that were an ‘issue’ in such a way that a parent feels cared for and heard.”
By Phone: (207) 465-3031
This phone rings in our office on the Mainland. It is staffed every day during the morning hours, and messages are checked and calls returned frequently throughout the rest of the day.
By US Postal Service Mail
Pine Island Camp
HC0 Box 200
Belgrade Lakes, ME 04918
By UPS, FedEx, and Other Courier Services
Pine Island Camp
234 Pine Island Road
Belgrade, ME 04917