Category Archives: The Pine Needle

Whoa! Advanced Stats Ahead!

New program poised to revolutionize PIC performance analytics
By Xander Schwartz

Pine Island’s position at the pinnacle of summer camp excellence is well-established and in no danger of diminishing, but several months ago, my associates and I became aware of a potentially disturbing development. The details are hopelessly technical and need not be repeated here, but the overall trend was worryingly clear: Quantification of the camp experience (never particularly robust even in the pre-internet age) had been neglected for years and become woefully inadequate—not even remotely next-gen in comparison to the competition.

The situation was so dire that there was no time to consult (or indeed, even inform) the Board of Directors or anyone else in the PIC leadership. Instead, recognizing the need for immediate action, my colleagues and I promptly formed our new organization; wrote, debated and ratified a number of impressively detailed founding documents; and got straight to work.

Since that momentous day, our team at PINE SAP (Pine Island’s Newly Exhaustive Statistical Analytics Program) has been laboring diligently; collecting advanced data under the watchful eyes of Zommule of Zim, the Omnioccular Wiggly Ziggler; running Spamson the Somnolent Sloth’s painfully slow, yet highly advanced models; and crunching advanced numbers with Glubb the Gourmandizing Grouper day in and day out. A dizzying array of projects remain in the works, but thankfully (and just in time for this year’s Pine Needle) PINE SAP has managed to complete its first report on an activity central to the camp experience: Dustball.

The question has lingered in the minds of dustball players for years: “Do LTIPs really throw as hard as it feels like they do?” Well, analysis of over two decades of relevant data has found the answer to be a resounding: YES!

As the above figure shows, the average LTIP beams the ball across the Dust Court at more than twice the speed of even the average counselor, and faster than the average Ridge, Range, and Aristocracy camper combined. Our analysts recommend taking shelter behind a larger camper whenever an LTIP gains possession of the ball.

But as any experienced dustballer knows, velocity is not the only relevant factor. Movement of the ball in flight is just as important, and this past summer, we finally acquired the technology to measure this with adequate precision.

As the above figure shows, a higher spin rate on the ball led to a markedly increased chance of successfully hitting an opposing player. The reasons for this cannot yet be definitively stated, but our analysts believe that the added unpredictability of the ball’s flight path causes the targeted player to lose precious milliseconds as they try to decide which dodge to employ. In any case, as these insights are put into practice on the Dust Court next summer, we expect to see a dramatic increase in average spin rate—along with a corresponding spike in instances of the ball ending up in the lake as overzealous young campers attempt to achieve maximum RPM.

That’s all for now, but stay tuned! PINE SAP’s mission has just begun, and it will not be complete until we have provided next-gen statistical analysis of all aspects of camp life. The digital revolution is here, and we will not rest until PIC is at the absolute cutting edge of summer camp performance analytics.

Till next time, Akka Lakka!

Xander Schwartz, K.D.
PINE SAP Founder and COO (Communications Optimization Officer)

A Bulkhead for Bulk Workers!

New Cabin on Honk Hill Will Be Permanent LTIP Quarters
by Miles Frank

Since the foundation of Pine Island’s illustrious Leadership Training Internship Program, its staff of rising high-school seniors, known as LTIPs, have been semi-nomadic, living in a variety of places around the island: North Hampton, Tent 1, Kopa Kababa, even a short-lived tent platform on the western slope of Honk Hill. But this unfortunate circumstance has, at long last, been rectified. Next summer, more than two decades after the first LTIPs donned their perch gloves, these essential workers will finally have comfortable, dedicated quarters all to themselves.

And it is well deserved, for the LTIPs are responsible for all things maintenance. Along with their numerous daily duties, they typically engage in a few key work projects, which involve a great deal of digging, hauling, and hammering. It is bulk work. By summer’s end, the LTIPs move about the island with trained eyes, noticing what needs repair and what can be improved. Above all, they develop an appreciation for hard work.

It is therefore especially apt that they will stay in a building honoring Tim Nagler. A tremendous amount of maintenance and improvement work was completed at PIC under Tim’s guidance, a direct result of his unbridled enthusiasm and sheer force of personality. From ‘Island Buildup,’ a years-long campaign of lugging stones ashore from the Great Pond lakebed, to the custom installation of skylights in many buildings, to countless other projects, Tim’s monumental efforts left their mark on Pine Island. 

The newly completed Bulkhead beside its larger counterpart, Honk Hall.
Note the diamond-shaped window above the door.

Designed by builder and engineer Rip Swan, the new LTIP cabin, known as the Bulkhead, honors Tim’s legacy by elegantly balancing his aesthetic preferences within the confines of limited island space. Standing proudly beside Honk Hall, the Bulkhead has several design features that mirror its older, grander neighbor, the most notable of which is a small diamond-shaped window above the front doorway. The diamond window in Honk Hall was one of Tim’s favorite features, and one that he made sure was included in the design when Honk was rebuilt after the fire of 1995. Seven total windows, including three large ones on the western wall, provide the Bulkhead with ample natural light, cool breezes, and, of course, spectacular views of Oak Island and Great Pond’s beautiful sunsets. In its prime spot at Pine Island’s highest point, the Bulkhead may soon come to symbolize the apex of island living.

The first stage of construction began in early May of 2022, when Rip and Miles Frank ventured out to the island on an unseasonably sweltering day to fell trees and dig post fittings, necessarily punctuated by frequent dips in the still-frigid lake. Stones were hauled, sono-tubes were set, and the post footings were poured later that week. Although they never displayed it, the 2022 LTIPs were undeniably (and understandably) a bit envious, gazing across the lawn from their canvas tent at the footprint of the new cabin-to-be. At the end of the summer, lumber was delivered and ferried across the lake. Rough-sawn and locally milled from high-quality white pine, this lumber contributes to the cabin’s distinctly rustic feel. Many thanks are due to volunteer extraordinaire John Alsop, who is very well connected in these matters and organized this key element of the build. 

The volunteer crew during construction, September 2022.

Principal construction took place in early September, when three of Tim’s five sons, Tom, Peter and Jim, joined Miles to frame and raise the building under Rip’s guidance, with Katie Swan and Corinne O’Connor providing delicious meals throughout the weekend. The crew was then joined by longtime Pine Islander and Nagler family friend Tom Yoder to help sheath the structure in fragrant cedar shingles. And just like that, Pine Island had a new cabin! A bit more work was still required: Ben Swan and John Alsop joined shortly thereafter to help install the windows, while Miles shingled the roof. Then came the slow task of trimming, painting, and siding, accomplished over the course of the fall by Miles and fall crew all-star Natalie Burr. 

In all, the Bulkhead is a fine new cabin: composed of quality materials, constructed with care, and built with purpose. Although brand new, it fits seamlessly into the island’s skyline, along with the newly re-sided Honk Hall and Magoon. The three buildings will weather together. Now draped in a layer of snow, the Bulkhead rests buttoned up with the island’s other buildings, ready to welcome its first LTIP occupants next summer. 

The interior of the Bulkhead, waiting to receive its first occupants next summer.
A plaque on the Bulkhead’s outer wall honors the legacy of Tim Nagler.

Just Another LTIP

By Eliza Cabot

The job of an LTIP, as anyone who knows will tell you, is work. Long, arduous, sometimes pouring-rain work, which tends to focus everyone on the task at hand. Any apprehension I might have had about being on the marquee as ‘The FIRST Female LTIP at Pine Island Camp for BOYS’ disappeared once the work began. As was the case for all the LTIPS, much was expected of me, and I was taught what I did not know by our wrangler Miles Frank, who deftly guided us through the summer of 2022. Peeling back the curtain on the labor required to keep camp running gives you a newfound appreciation for the notion that “someone has to do it…” because that someone is you. I learned a lot about my own ability to take on tasks, but there is, of course, nothing unusual about that; the LTIP tradition has forged many young people into more capable versions of themselves, and I was no exception. I was neither a fish out of water nor one of the boys; I was myself, in a community, getting things done like any other LTIP.

We’re looking for more women applicants for our Leadership Training Internship Program. LTIPs learn and practice how to drive motor boats, use power tools, work in the kitchen, and perform countless maintenance tasks around the island. They also fill in for counselors as needed, and they learn how to lead trips and teach activities. Please encourage anyone you think would enjoy this role to contact Sumner Ford at

No Need for Sports Camp!

Pine Islanders Find Athletic Success in the Real World
by Sumner Ford

Pine Island is far from a sports camp; indeed, our lack of competition is one of our major selling points. For campers and counselors who spent much of the year battling in various competitive endeavors, Pine Island provides a welcome respite, an environment where everyone, including those who would rather avoid competition, can excel. Still, as I have connected with staff, campers, and alumni over the years during the off-season, I’ve been struck by the number of Pine Islanders competing at a high level across many different sports.  

As young campers, Lucas and Mateo Rodriguez Cortina revolutionized the dustball court. As campers, they introduced the Pine Island community to “World Cup,” a soccer-based game that closely resembles dustball in its dynamic, free-for-all form.  Lucas and Mateo have gone on to play soccer semi-professionally in their native Mexico, and this past summer for the Boston Bolts. They now play at the collegiate level for rival schools: Lucas for Colgate and Mateo for Cornell.  

Mateo (dark jersey, third from left) and Lucas Rodriguez Cortina (light jersey, right), playing soccer for Cornell and Colgate, respectively

Sawyer Carson, who was widely believed to be part fish during his time as a camper and taught swimming this past summer, has racked up a long list of swimming accomplishments, including helping Maine Maritime Academy place third at the NEISDA championship this past year.  

Caleb Hunter began Nordic ski racing in high school and eventually found his niche in Biathlon, the iconic skiing-and-target-shooting sport traditionally dominated by Scandinavian countries. Caleb has impressed many with his ability to ski wicked fast, then calm himself enough to shoot with pinpoint accuracy. The pandemic has prevented him from competing in some high-level competitions, like the World University Games in Switzerland, but Caleb has remained persistent, even placing 15th at U.S. Nationals last winter. Caleb is now training at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center and hopes to make the US National Team.

Pine Island has always had a strong presence in the world of rowing. Max Klivans and Sam Trombone, who helped campers hone their rowing form at Pine Island this summer, both row for Hamilton College during the school year. Will Siebert, who hopes to join them as a rowing instructor next summer, actually found himself rowing against Max at the Head of the Charles as a freshman on the Bates College Rowing Team. Nick Newbold may not teach rowing, but he has extensive experience as a coxswain, first at Northfield Mount Hermon and now at Skidmore College.  

Sailing Instructor Thomas Clauson recently ventured down from Readfield, Maine to American University in Washington, DC, where he was quickly recruited to join the sailing team. We look forward to him sharing his new racing knowledge when he returns to PIC next summer. 

Thomas Clauson ready to set out for the American University sailing team

A dirt basketball court riddled with rocks makes passing mandatory. Playing against counselors a foot taller than you necessitates some serious creativity. No, I’m not touting Pine Island as the ideal basketball camp, but this past year, we watched two former campers compete in March Madness: Cormac Ryan garnered headlines as he scored 29 points for Notre Dame in an upset win against Alabama, while Keenan Worthingto, played as a walk-on at Duke in Coach K’s final season.  

Darian Squires-Siemer lives in Steamboat Springs and takes full advantage of the spectacular setting. He competes in big mountain freeskiing, in which he is judged on his ability to navigate some of the most challenging terrain in North America. Last winter, Darian was ranked first out of more that 700 12-to-14-year-old skiers in the Rocky Mountain Division and ultimately placed tenth at Nationals in Big Sky, Montana.

When Kit Smith was a counselor at Pine Island, he competed in both hockey and lacrosse at Bowdoin College and played professional lacrosse for the Boston Cannons right after leading Expedition Camp. Kit no longer competes in lacrosse, but since the company’s earliest days, he has been a partner at String King, one of the largest manufacturers of lacrosse equipment in the world.  

Ned Bishop may be a Pine Island legend, but to many he’s also a legend of Connecticut College, where he has coached Women’s Track and Cross-Country for 36 years. Ned prides himself on coaching some of the most academically successful athletes in both sports, but his athletes have nevertheless found impressive results under his tutelage; he has coached National Champions, All-Americans, and countless Academic All-Americans.

If you attended camp in the 2010s, I hope you witnessed “Talkin’ Spwahts with Xander Schwartz,” a popular campfire act that displayed Xander’s encyclopedic knowledge of sports, especially baseball. Xander spent last summer as an intern for the Cleveland Guardians front office and ended up with a full-time job offer after he graduates from Amherst College in May.

Even in this era of hyper-specialization, Pine Island alumni are proving that time spent at camp need not disqualify anyone from success in the world of sports. If anything, one could argue that PIC provides many advantages for aspiring athletes.