Thank you to our Sloan Critchfield Volunteers!

Our Sloan Critchfield Memorial Boat Maintenance Weekend was a tremendous success. Pine Island’s fleet of beautiful wooden boats is ready for the opening of the 2023 camp season thanks to the terrific work of a great group of volunteers. But, it’s not just about the boats. It’s about honoring the memory of our friend, Sloan Critchfield, a Pine Island camper and counselor and lover of boats and the water who died in 2004 when he was just twenty years old. Everyone who knew Sloan still misses him and it is fitting that an annual gathering at Pine Island to care for our fleet of beautiful wooden boats is in his memory. 

Special thanks to our leader, Cody Smith, and to everyone who participated, including Bryan Carey, Lizzy Durkin, Byron and Justin Gaspard, Henry Geyer, Owen and Ian Gilbert, Doug Handy, Kat Highley, AJ Powers, Chris Ward, Adam and Heath Wenchel and Erin Heath, and staff members Natalie Burr, Sumner Ford, and Miles Frank. 

If you have not attended a Sloan Critchfield Memorial Boat Maintenance Weekend, come on up next September! It is well worth the trip.

Photos and Stories from our Summer

Pine Island’s 120th season was another great one! Our campers earned ranks in their favorite activities; paddled and hiked throughout the remote north woods of New England; produced and acted in riveting Saturday Night Shows; and most importantly, created a community in which each boy’s participation and energy was needed and valued. It was not without challenges, but our unflappable community met each one with grace and good cheer.

For a glimpse into the creative, imaginative, and active lives campers led at Pine Island this summer, we invite you to read the 2022 Mid-Summer Pine Needle, a publication of camper articles, poetry, and artwork. This is the result of a special journalism session that several campers participated in this summer. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

We’ve also compiled some of our favorite photos from the trail and around camp into our 2022 At-a-Glance gallery. Special thanks to the staff, campers, and parents who contributed to this album, including Kiran Dhawan, who took this incredible drone shot, and Kate Skogen, who volunteered her photography skills at the Farewell Ceremony.

“Pine Island Sunset” by Kiran Dhawan 

It was an incredible summer and we’re grateful to our campers for stepping out of their comfort zones to grow, learn, and challenge themselves; to our staff for their creativity, patience, and care; to our volunteers for their valuable time and skills; and to our camp parents for their trust in us. Our season depended on every one of you, and every one of you came through to make it another great summer.

Thank you

Our 2022 Season Is Almost Here

I recently spent a beautiful Saturday on the shore of Bryant Pond learning how to cast a fly rod. About two hours into the lesson, after some frustrating moments—including getting the line tangled in my hair—it started to click. I stopped concentrating on the mechanics of the movement, and got into a rhythm. And for the first time in a while, I felt the excitement that comes with learning a new outdoor skill, and all the opportunities it invites. And I realized this is a small part of what it feels like to be a camper at PIC. 

Each day at Pine Island is a chance to try something new: learn to sail, roll a kayak, swim to the mainland, hit the bullseye, craft a chair, star in a Saturday Night Show… As campers make their way through the ranks of the activities of their choosing, those skills add up. There will be frustrating moments and setbacks, but throughout the summer they’ll make strides in the direction they choose. And in the end, they’ll have far more than a patch in their hand. They’ll have the confidence that only comes from earned achievement. It won’t all be easy, but it will all be worth it. And we’re excited for it to begin.

We’re grateful for all the parents, volunteers, and donors who have made this upcoming season possible, and we look forward to every challenge and success ahead.

All the best,
Sarah Hunter
Communications Director

P.S. When they’re not in activities, our 2022 Pine Islanders will be paddling, hiking, and fishing their way through New England this summer. We’ve shared their tripping options below. If you see them on the trail, please say hello.

Our 2022 Trips

Included in the myraid tasks that consume these last weeks is finalizing our trip schedule. Great care is taken in crafting these expeditions, which range from one-night trips to weeks-long journeys on the trails and waterways of New England. Our campers will fish iconic rivers, backpack through Baxter State Park, hike The Greatest Mountain, traverse the Presidential Range, paddle quiet waters, and navigate class-2 rapids. They’ll maintain a section of the Appalachian Trail, explore tide pools on Whitehead Island, and follow Thoreau’s journey on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. From beginner trips to challenging expeditions, we have something for all of our campers. We provide the options; they pick their adventures. This year, our trip calendar includes:

Beginner Trips

Mt. Washington – 3-day hike up Mt. Washington
Oak Island – 2-day introduction to camping on nearby Oak Island
Saddleback – 3-day hike up Saddleback Mountain
Bald Pate – 3-day hike on the Appalachian Trail
Bigelow – 3-day hike on Mt. Bigelow
Moosilauke – 3-day hike on Mt. Moosilauke
Kennessassabackscot – 3-day paddle from the Kennebec to Swan Island, then the Sasanoa, Back, and Sheepscot Rivers to Wiscasset

Intermediate Trips

Cliffhanger – 4-day hike in the White Mountains from Ethan Pond to the Kangamangus Highway including Mt. Guyot and Mt. Bond
West Branch – 4-day canoe trip on the West Branch of the Penobscot River
Northern Peaks – 4-day hike on the Appalachian Trail following the Presidential Peaks north of Mt. Washington
Flag Big Flag – 4-day adventure in the War Yacht, a 28-foot canoe that can be paddled or sailed. Campers paddle on Flagstaff Lake to the base of Mt. Bigelow. They ascend Mt. Bigelow, spend one night on the mountain, and then paddle back the length of Flagstaff Lake.
Lafayette’s March – 5-day hike in the Pemigewasset Wilderness region of the White Mountains
Carter-Moriah – 4-day hike in the White Mountains for intermediate hikers
Moose River – 4-day canoe trip along a rare and scenic loop route. Campers begin on Attean Pond, portage up to Holeb Pond and Holeb Stream (which can run in either direction depending on rainfall) and then descend the Moose River. 
Chip Lakes – 4-day canoe on the Chiputneticook Lakes, the headwaters of the Saint Croix River

Advanced Trips

Senior Katahdin – 5-day hike through Baxter State Park and up Maine’s Greatest Mountain
Old Speck – 4-day hike following the Appalachian Trail through the famous Mahoosuc Notch
ONG-BAK (O.A.R. Navigators Going Backward Along the Kennebec) – 4-day rowing trip from Waterville to Bath Iron Works
Senior Whites – 7-day hike from Franconia Notch to Pinkham Notch
Senior Canoe – 6-day paddle on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway
St. Croix – 4-day canoe adventure on the St. Croix River
ONGBOSS – 4-day rowing trip on the Saco River from Swans Falls to Hiram in dories

For Everyone

ATC Hawg – 3-day work trip clearing the 5-mile section of the Appalachian Trail from Pierce Pond to the Kennebec River (a PIC tradition since the 1950s)
I.P.F.D. (Indian Pond Fishing Derby) – 3-day fishing trip on Indian Pond and the east outlet of the Kennebec River. Great spot for salmon, brook trout, lake trout, and bass.
Big Eddy – Designed and led by Doug Faherty, parent of long-time Pine Islander Jack Faherty, this 3-day trip takes campers to the “Big Eddy” on the Penobscot River. Pine Islanders have caught many brook trout and salmon on this trip, including a 20+” salmon that had onlookers ogling.
Whitehead Island – 4-day trip on PIC’s saltwater outpost to explore the rocky shoreline, learn about the biology of the large intertidal zone, play games, learn knot-tying, dig for clams, and search for other wild edibles under the expert guidance of our Whitehead program director.
Maine Woodsman and Junior Maine Woodsman certification program – a 3-day trip at Pine Island’s Norridgewock camp site. Before leaving, campers create a meal plan and prepare their own gear for the trip. At the camp site, they construct their own sleeping shelters, cook all the food themselves, and pass numerous examinations in essential camping skills.

Expedition Camp Schedule

Twelve of our oldest campers (15- and 16-year-olds) have signed on to Expedition Camp – our rigorous and rewarding outdoor leadership training program. Led by two experienced counselors, Expedition Campers train for and complete two long camping trips – a canoe trip on the Penobscot, Allagash and St. John Rivers and a hike on Vermont’s Long Trail. The campers plan these trips and take turns in the leadership role while out on the trail. Here’s the outline of their summer:

June 24: Arrive!
June 25-28: Orientation, practice canoeing & pre-trip at PIC
June 29-July 1: Wilderness First Aid course at Whitehead Island
July 2-13: Canoe trip on the Penobscot, Allagash and St. John Rivers
July 14: R&R
July 15-16: Saturday Night Show, Club Honk, Camp Picture, Regatta
July 17-18: Pre-trip for the Long Trail
July 19-31: Backpack on Vermont’s Long Trail
August 1-2: R&R
August 3-5: King’s Game
August 6: Packing Day
August 7: Farewell 

Club Honk ’21 Heads Outdoors

By Corinne Alsop

After a year apart, Club Honk was a reminder of the importance of music, performance, and tradition at Pine Island Camp.

Early one morning near the midpoint of the 2021 Pine Island season on the day of Camp Picture, Club Honk, and the Regatta, the camp vans departed from the Whitehead boat landing full of campers and staff who were in the middle of their week’s stay on Whitehead Island. The Pine Islanders on their way from Whitehead would be staying only through the end of the day, but what a day it would be! Because of Covid protocols, this would be the first time the camp community would all convene in one place this summer.

Despite a morning rain squall, when the time came to head up to the Honk lawn for the show, the sun was shining, the camp was fed, and the island was freshly cleaned by the squall. Campers and staff, greeted by waiters in their usual silly garb pulled from the costume box, took their seats in the outdoor amphitheater the LTIPs had spent the morning arranging. Chairs and benches fanned out from the back porch of Honk Hall across the entire lawn. Streamers stretched out from the eaves of Honk to the trees that surround the lawn. Nalgenes, strung like multi-colored lanterns, swung lightly in the cooling western breeze. The osprey, perched in her nest, watched as the first performers took the stage. “It feels like a music festival. More fun than Coachella!” said Madison Olds, distinguished Pine Island Head Cook. 

Campers took the lead in this year’s show. The show began with “Club Honk,” a rewrite of “Roxanne” by the Police, led by Kathy Flores and Corinne Alsop, and was followed by a stunning rendition of the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House,” performed by Arlo, Wyatt, Charlie, Santi Costa Peuser, Nat Burr, and Matthew Hawkins. Daniel once again thrilled the audience with his beautiful voice as he performed in the waning light. George Baldwin, swimming instructor and accomplished singer, belted out an impressive medley of his favorite country songs. David Effron showcased an original composition entitled “Way of the Lake.” The Club Honk favorite, “Piano Man,” was taken on by Wyatt and Charlie alongside Matthew Hawkins. 

Not only were the acts well rehearsed and excellently executed, but the nature of the outdoor venue made the audio and visual experience better in a big way. Singers and instrumentalists were able to belt it out without any overwhelming reverb or other auditory interference — the music wafted over the audience with ease. Oftentimes, because Club Honk takes place in the middle of July, the event can get uncomfortably hot and sweaty in the dim light of the indoor stage. Outside, with the sun setting gently over the Kennebec Highlands, the air stirred with passing lake breezes and the audience was continually cooled and comfortable. 

Once the Hippy Cowboys took the stage to close the show, the audience couldn’t help but leap to their feet and begin dancing around. Outside, there was plenty of room to move chairs aside and cheer and dance to the Hippys’ rockin’ set as a community, all together at last, celebrated reaching the halfway point in the summer with great success. After a year apart, Club Honk was a reminder of the importance of music, performance, and tradition at Pine Island Camp. 

The ageless Hippy Cowboys and their fans rock out at Honkapalooza

This piece was originally published in the February 2022 edition of The Pine Needle.