Category Archives: Pine Island Staff

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

May 18 was a somber day, despite the bright sunshine and spring flowers in full bloom.  We spent the day letting the PIC community know that camp would not open in 2020.  Knowing that we had made the right decision definitely did not make it any easier, and I felt sad, nostalgic, and profoundly mournful all day. 

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.

Photo: Jesse Gordon/Audubon Photography Awards

Whoa, King Kababa!

With high hopes for a wonderful reunion back on Great Pond in 2021,

Emily Swan

Password: “Take Pine Island With You”

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.

Akka Lakka!

Meet our Fly Fishing Instructors

Great Pond is one of Maine’s premier smallmouth bass fishing lakes, a perfect place for boys to learn to fish both with spinning gear and with fly rods. Many boys have caught big bass on flies they have tied themselves. Last year, under the leadership of Will Stack and Dawson Loewen, the program celebrated an impressive milestone: 13 consecutive catch days! Both Will and Dawson have signed on to return, so we expect more success in 2020. 

Will and Dawson, both Wilderness First Responders, also take campers out on overnight trips to apply the skills they’ve learned in some more remote locations. A typical summer includes two fishing trips: I.P.F.D., a 3-day trip on Indian Pond and the east outlet of the Kennebec River, which is a great spot for salmon, brook trout, lake trout, and bass; and Big Eddy, a 4-day trip on the Penobscot River. Pine Islanders have caught many brook trout and salmon on Big Eddy, including a 20+” salmon that had onlookers ogling.

Will Stack is a sophomore at Saint Lawrence University from Millbrook, New York. Will learned to fish on Great Pond as a camper. We’re fortunate to have him back for his 6th summer on Pine Island.
Dawson Loewen is a senior at the University of Montana, where he’s majoring in Elementary Education. He learned to fish in Missoula, Montana (arguably the mecca of fly fishing in the US) and we’re grateful that he will return to Pine Island to teach for his 3rd summer.

Meet our 2019 Staff – Mark Pierce

Kayaking Instructor

Mark is a junior at Columbia University from Kingston Springs, TN and he returns for his second summer as our Kayaking Instructor. Mark teaches everything from basic kayaking techniques to advance moves, like rolling. He prepares campers for the challenges of the CLIK Trip – Chip Lakes In Kayaks – a four-day adventure on Chiputneticook Lakes. Mark’s good humor and exceptional musical talents enrich our nightly campfires and our Saturday Night Shows.