Director Sumner Ford and our skeleton crew of summer staff left the island earlier this month, and while they accomplished a lot in a six-week span, they did so knowing that no matter what they did, this summer would always feel incomplete. Indeed it was. There were no noisy dining hall meals, no campfires in the cove, no returning trips to celebrate, no Boats Out. But, in the place of these traditional camp experiences we missed, our staff gave us something new. They built a community from afar. They created an impressive group of engaging and informative tutorials, exchanged video check-ins, phone calls, and letters with campers, and each week they compiled entertaining campfires (PIC T.EL.E.V.I.S.I.O.N.) for families to enjoy together in their homes.
Many thanks to our crew: Corinne Alsop, Natalie Burr, Bobby Flynn, Miles Frank, Justin Gaspard, Matthew Hawkins, Elinor Hesson, Matt Miller, Madison Olds, Mark Pierce, and Jack Reed.
And to our campers! They would have much preferred to be on the island – and we would have been happy to have them there! – but we’re grateful for all of their participation.
All the best, Sarah Hunter Communications Director
P.S. We highly recommend checking out this terrific group of tutorials. They cover a wide range of topics including: Building a Shelter, Orienteering, Knot Tying, Drawing, Astronomy, Tree Identification, and many more. They’re informative, funny, and just plain great!
Since our decision to cancel camp this season, we’ve received an outpouring of ideas and enthusiasm for some type of programming from PIC this summer. After much thought and discussion, we’ve settled on a hybrid form of communication that involves a combination of pre-recorded demonstrations and live, interactive discussions. We have a variety of projects, lessons and contests planned to share with you throughout the next several weeks. This programming is open to everyone – current, past, and prospective camp families are all welcome to take part in any and all of our offerings this summer. And there is no cost to participate.
In order to ensure safety we are working with a skeleton crew – 10 staff members plus director Sumner Ford, for a total of 11 people on the island. It was not easy to select only 10 people from our deep pool of talented staff members. We wish we could have had all of them – and all of our campers – with us this summer. But keeping it to 10 has made it manageable. We’ve taken a variety of measures to ensure their saftey.* Returning campers will know all of these counselors, and new campers have already seen several of them at our weekly Campfire events (now renamed to PIC T.EL.E.V.I.S.I.O.N. – more on that below). They are Corinne Alsop, Natalie Burr, Bobby Flynn, Miles Frank, Justin Gaspard, Matthew Hawkins, Matt Miller, Madison Olds, Mark Pierce, and Jack Reed.
Together they’re creating some incredible content for our campers and they’re sharing it all on our new Google site: PIC 2020 Summer Programming.
This site includes skill-building tutorials in a variety of activities, sign-up sheets for private music lessons, projects, contests, reading recommendations, and more. Here are just a few of the videos we have posted so far:
In addition to this terrific summer programming, PIC T.EL.E.V.I.S.I.O.N will be live from camp on Wednesday nights at 8 pm on Facebook. We realize that not everyone has a Facebook account, so we’re going to post the weekly shows on the Google site after they air live. Special thanks to the Gilbert brothers – Colin, Ryan and Owen – for coming up with the winning name suggestion for our weekly campfires! Transcendent ELectronic Entertainment Virtually Injected Safety Into Our Neighborhoods
We know that none of this makes up for not being at camp. Although we cannot recreate the experience our campers have lost, we hope, through videos and zoom calls, to give them a taste of the community we share together each summer. Normally technology is an impediment to creating our community when we’re all on the island together. But this year is different. Please join us if you can.
All the best, Sarah Hunter Communications Director
P.S. When the staff not creating amazing content for our campers, they’ll be involved in one of several gloriously unglamorous jobs – cleaning the perches, beefing up erosion control on the west side of the island, refinishing the Dining Hall floor, and other tremendously important tasks to ensure the island is in top shape to welcome our campers back next summer.
*We want to let you know we have put a tremendous amount of effort and thought into keeping our small staff safe this summer. Each staff member has undergone a 14-day isolation period. They each have their own living quarters on the island. Their temperatures and oxygen levels are being monitored daily. They are in small cohort groups and keeping 6 feet of distance between groups. They are remaining on the island for the entire 5-week period and no visitors are allowed. Despite these strict measures, though, they’re happy to be there and are excited about providing programming for anyone who wants to participate.
I spent much of the day at the desk in my office on the second floor of our house, which offers a perfect vantage point for observing spring migrants feeding in the maple trees in the back yard and a spinney of birches in the side yard. Every year I see an amazing number of warbler species – up to 16 in a season – without ever leaving the house. Although May 18 was a bad day for Pine Island, it was a great day for spring birding. In addition to the usual cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, cedar waxwings, and downy woodpeckers, I saw yellow, parula, black and white, Wilson’s, and magnolia warblers, redstarts, and chimney swifts.
But there was another bird flitting energetically among the birches, definitely not one of the usual suspects. After watching it closely through my binoculars for a few minutes and consulting my Peterson’s guide, I determined that it was a blue-gray gnatcatcher, a bird I had never before seen here in Brunswick, Maine and had seen only once before in my life many years ago at Whitehead. Watching its tireless activity and cheery aspect was a bright spot in an otherwise bleak day. Could this delightful little bird be an emissary from King Kababa, sent from Mt. Philip to remind me that Pine Island had been in tough places before and would find its way out of this one too? Blue and Gray, resourceful, optimistic, energetic, hard-working, cheerful – a sign from the King if ever there was one.
Whoa, King Kababa!
With high hopes for a wonderful reunion back on Great Pond in 2021,
Every day at camp between tent cleanup and morning activities, campers and counselors gather together in Honk Hall on well-worn wooden folding chairs to hear a story. The role of storyteller falls to a different counselor each day and their task is simple: tell about a moment when you faced a dilemma or a tough situation, when you found humor in an unexpected place, when you stepped outside your comfort zone, when you failed or made a mistake. At the end of the story, the password of the day is declared, a simple statement to remind everyone about the lesson. Today, Director Sumner Ford offers this Password:
This winter I had the pleasure of traveling to Seattle to meet with prospective campers, current campers, and alumni. During my trip I reconnected with Woody Hoyt, who was one of my favorite counselors from my days as a camper. Woody was my tent counselor in Tent 11 and also led me and seven others on PIC’s renowned Senior White Mountains trip that same year. As we gathered in our host John Pollard’s kitchen, Woody and I looked through his photos from that trip, old 3×5 prints taken with his disposable camera. Looking at those photos, I quickly connected with my 13-year-old self and went back to a place where I faced one of the biggest challenges of my camper career.
The steep, imposing cliffs of Mt. Webster lived in infamy in the Pine Island community and I wasn’t sure that I had what it took to make it up the mountain. Three days of hiking did little to alleviate my fears. The morning that we set out from Ethan Pond, my fellow campers sensed my concern. Those who were feeling stronger selflessly volunteered to carry some of my group gear. Our goal was communal — to reach the top of Mt. Webster — but each of us would need to succeed as individuals to achieve our goal. Mt. Webster was only attainable if we looked after each other. As we ascended the near-vertical face of the mountain, we boosted one another with words of encouragement. It wasn’t easy, but we made it – together.
Pine Island offers many ways for campers to conquer challenges and achieve their goals. Many campers focus on sailing and paddling and every one of them has a story of strong winds and tired arms. Others spend hours in Honk Hall on a Saturday, memorizing lines and donating all of their day to entertain their friends during the night’s Saturday Night Show. Whatever path you carved for yourself at Pine Island, it was paved with selflessness and a strong sense of community. Now, more than ever, we all follow that path.
The last password every Pine Islander hears before departing for home is “Take Pine Island with You.” In this stressful and uncertain time, I hope your memories of camp will buoy your spirits and serve as a lasting reminder that selflessness and a concern for others are the foundation of every great community. Today, more than any other day, take Pine Island with you.