Camp Life

Island Life

Pine Island Camp is located on a wooded island in a pristine, quiet lake in central Maine. We are the island’s only residents, and with no electricity – and no TV, computers, or cell phones – we rely on each other for everything, from instruction to entertainment. Boys live in comfortable platform tents and are grouped according to age in one of three areas. Each tent has four boys and a counselor. A majority of staff started at Pine Island as campers; all have been chosen for reliability and character. Days on Pine Island include a long-proven combination of instruction and free time, and, unlike many camps, Pine Island allows boys to choose their activities each day. Because they have a lot of choice, boys are enthusiastic about what they’re doing, and they have plenty of time to use their imaginations and entertain themselves with friends. We eat together and play together. At night around the campfire we enjoy skits, musical performances, games, and stories of adventure from each returning trip. On Saturday nights we have a special treat: the Saturday Night Show, a homegrown production written, casted, costumed and rehearsed that day. The Loon King, The Bark Knight, and I Walk The Pine are past favorites. There has never been a shortage of imagination or entertainment at Pine Island.

Daily Schedule

Pine Island’s daily schedule provides a proven mix of structured activities and supervised free time. Our island location gives us the luxury of allowing boys to decide for themselves how to spend their free time, something that many boys find an unexpected treat. There is always a lot going on and boys are never bored.



At Pine Island Camp our first consideration is the safety of our campers and staff. We have an excellent safety record spanning more than 100 summers. At least one counselor with the rigorous Wilderness First Responder certification staffs every camping trip, and all trip leaders are certified by the State of Maine and receive additional training at Pine Island during the week before camp opens. While we send cell phones on trips with the staff, we train our counselors to be able to handle virtually any situation independently. Boys and staff wear lifejackets every time they step into a boat – in camp or on trips. No camper is ever allowed out in a boat or in the lake without supervision. We travel in leased, state-of-the-art vans with approved drivers. Our medic lives on the island in the infirmary and is available at all times. We monitor the weather, and our emergency procedures are clear and understood by every member of the staff.


Pine Island offers two two-hour activity periods each day, and right after breakfast boys choose the activities they will take that day. Our program is designed to allow enough time in each activity period for focused instruction and, in boating activities, the opportunity to venture out across the lake on outings that combine instruction with adventure. Our activities offer the opportunity for boys to earn rankings, but the emphasis is on each boy’s improvement of his own skills rather than on competition with others.

On the Waterfront


An island is a natural place to learn water sports and skills. Pine Island makes the most of its environment and exposes boys to the basic keystones of competency and safety on the water as soon as they arrive at camp. Every boy is encouraged to strengthen his swimming skills at Pine Island. The swimming program follows Red Cross standards and ranges from beginning courses to life-saving and basic rescue. Special attention is given to non-swimmers, and every boy is required to achieve the rank of beginner at a minimum. In addition to instructional periods, there are two general swim periods every day, during which three lifeguards are on duty.


Handling a rowboat becomes second nature to almost every Pine Islander. Sound rowing technique is the first step to good seamanship, and rowing is a source of pleasure and exercise unknown to the youth who lives with an outboard at his back. Our rowing fleet includes nine wooden boats custom designed and built for PIC, and a single scull. As with all boating activities, life jackets are required at all times.

Kayaking & Canoeing

Kayaking and canoeing instruction prepares campers for safe trips on lakes and rivers throughout Maine. Kayaks are excellent craft for younger boys; they are responsive, easy to handle, and lots of fun. Canoe trips can last up to 7 days, though we offer many shorter trips of varying difficulty over the summer. At camp, boys learn the basics of canoe safety and rescue.


Hundreds of boys have learned to sail at Pine Island. Great Pond is a large lake, 32 miles around, with islands and bays that invite sailing excursions. The sailing program is designed to accommodate absolute novices, who increase in rank with the staff’s guidance. Pine Island has a large and varied fleet of sailboats. It is in one of our two wooden custom built 12 1/2-foot catboats that a novice sailor can learn to handle the main sheet and the tiller before he moves on to one of our four custom built smaller boats. These boats, called Bezumarangs, are small, easy to operate and very forgiving, so they are ideal for intermediate sailors. Once they are comfortable at the helm of a Bezumarang, boys may take on the challenge of skippering one of our two JY-15s. These are high performance fiberglass racing boats and are very fast. Boys can learn racing tactics in Bezumarang races held after dinner or during sailing class.

Fly Fishing

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. Fly fishing is offered as a full-fledged activity at Pine Island with a counselor dedicated to it. The camp owns a number of fly rods and reels and all the gear necessary for tying flies. During a typical fly fishing activity boys can learn the basics of fly casting or fly tying. Many boys have caught big bass on flies they have tied themselves.

Beyond the Waterfront


Pine Island offers Workshop as a regular daily activity. The focus is on building simple, useful things out of wood, and in the process learning how to make things with your hands, using an array of hand tools. Absolute novices are welcome. Boys usually start with building a simple shelf and then move on to other, increasingly complex projects. Many boys have their first experience with tools and wood at Pine Island, and many have discovered the great satisfaction that making something beautiful and useful with your hands affords.

Riflery & Archery

In riflery and archery, the standards of marksmanship, safety, and instruction are the highest. As in other activities, both programs offer the opportunity to earn rankings and insignia, but the emphasis is on each boy’s improvement of his own record rather than constant competition with others.


We have two professionally maintained clay tennis courts on the mainland. Individual instruction gives confidence to the beginner, while coaching and a tennis ladder whet the skills of advanced players.


Pine Island’s woodcraft program teaches boys the basic camping skills they’ll need on our many trips. Boys can learn basic axemanship, fire building, first aid, emergency shelter construction, leave-no-trace techniques and much more. Achievement in woodcraft at Pine Island culminates in the Maine Woodsman and Junior Maine Woodsman certification program, which includes in-camp instruction, followed by a supervised 3-day trip where campers construct their own sleeping shelters, cook all the food themselves, and pass numerous examinations in essential camping skills.


At any time, dozens of Pine Islanders are out on trips exploring points near and far across New England. Over 40 canoe, kayak, and hiking trips depart from Pine Island each summer, taking campers and counselors from the summits of Mt. Washington and Katahdin to the border waters between Maine and Canada. For the youngest campers, two- or three-day trips teach fundamental camping skills. Fourteen- and fifteen-year-old campers may go for as long as a week into wild country. Each boy chooses his own trips with guidance from the staff. Time on the trail teaches self-reliance and community cooperation. A group of eight boys and two counselors depend on each other to make each trip a success. Counselors are carefully trained, skilled trip leaders.

Hiking Trips

Over half of Pine Island’s camping trips are backpacking trips, and most are designed to summit one or several mountains in Maine or New Hampshire. Younger boys camp at the base of mountains like Saddleback or Mt. Washington and day hike to the summit without packs. Older boys carry their packs from campsite to campsite, on routes that take them over summits and along ridges above the tree line.

A typical summer includes the following hiking trips, among others:

Bald Pate – three-day hike on the Appalachian Trail for beginning hikers.

Saddleback – three-day hike on Saddleback Mountain for beginning hikers. Campers spend the night at Piazza Rock campground on the Appalachian Trail.

Bigelow – three-day hike on Mt. Bigelow. Campers hike over the mountain with packs and end at Flagstaff Lake. For beginning hikers.

Mt. Washington – three-day hike up Mt. Washington for beginning hikers.

Carter-Moriah – four-day hike in the White Mountains for intermediate hikers.

Northern Peaks – four-day hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail following the Presidential Peaks north of Mt. Washington. For intermediate hikers.

Flag Big Flag – four-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, spending one night on the mountain, and then paddle back the length of Flagstaff Lake. This trip is for intermediate paddlers/hikers.

Maine Peaks – five-day hike following the Appalachian Trail from Saddleback to Sugarloaf. For advanced hikers.

Junior Katahdin – three-day hike for intermediate hikers who ascend Katahdin without packs.

Senior Katahdin – five-day hike for advanced hikers on Maine’s tallest mountain.

Senior Whites – seven-day trip from Franconia Notch to Pinkham Notch. Campers summit Mt. Lafeyette, Webster, and the Presidentials. For advanced hikers.

Cliffhanger – four-day trip in the White Mountains from Ethan Pond to the Kangamangus Highway including Mt. Guyot and Mt. Bond. For intermediate hikers.

Old Speck – four-day hike following the Appalachian Trail through Mahoosuc Notch in New Hampshire and Maine. For advanced hikers.

Lafayette’s March – five-day hiking trip in the White Mountains with packs. For intermediate hikers.

Founding Fathers – 3-day hike in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains for intermediate hikers.

Paddling and Rowing Trips

Pine Islanders paddle all the major rivers in Maine and several of its lakes in either canoes or kayaks. At least two trips a year are rowing trips on which boys row double-banked in Pine Island’s custom-designed wooden rowboats. Like hiking trips, water trips vary greatly in length and difficulty so that boys of all ages can enjoy them.

A typical summer includes the following canoe, kayak and rowing trips, among others:

Indian Pond – three-day canoe trip from Moosehead Lake to Indian Pond for beginning paddlers.

Oak Island – two-day, one-night introduction to camping. Campers take the War Yacht on Great Pond to neighboring Oak Island.

ONG-BAK – O.A.R. Navigators Going Backward Along the Kennebec – a trip from Waterville to Bath Iron Works for advanced rowers.

West Branch – four-day canoe trip on the West Branch of the Penobscot River. For intermediate paddlers.

Senior Canoe – six-day trip on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, from the Churchill dam at the head of the Allagash River to Allagash Village. For advanced paddlers.

Kennessassabackscot – Campers paddle the Kennebec to Swan Island, then navigate the Sasanoa, Back, and Sheepscot Rivers to Wiscasset. Three-day trip for beginning paddlers.

Great Pond Rowing Trip – An exploration of Great Pond in rowboats. For beginning and intermediate rowers.

Chip Lakes – four-day trip in canoes on the Chiputneticook Lakes, the headwaters of the Saint Croix River. For intermediate paddlers.

CLIK – Chip Lakes In Kayaks – four-day trip on Chiputneticook Lakes. For intermediate kayakers.

St. Croix – four-day canoeing adventure on St. Croix River from Vanceboro to the Kellyland dam. For intermediate to advanced paddlers.

Clauson’s – This 3-day trip does not include the Clauson River nor is it named after Claussen pickles. Several years ago, Pine Island alum Thomas Clauson and his father, alum and board member Henry Clauson, paddled the Kennebago River and determined it to be a great trip for campers. Over the past few summers it has proven to be just that, with beginner to intermediate paddlers gaining tripping experience and catching salmon, brook trout, and bass along the way.

I.P.I.K. – Indian Pond in Kayaks – a 3-day trip for beginner to intermediate paddlers. Campers spend one day kayaking down the west outlet of the Kennebec River and two days paddling on Indian Pond.

Whitehead Island

Although most of our trips take us inland to the unspoiled lakes, rivers, and mountains of Maine and New Hampshire, all Pine Islanders also have the opportunity to explore Whitehead Island, a 90-acre island in the center of one of the most acclaimed stretches of coast in the United States. Groups of Pine Islanders go to Whitehead for four days at a time 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 the Whitehead program director.

Fishing Trips

For campers who are enthusiastic fishermen, we offer both day and overnight trips on which boys are able to use the fly-fishing skills they’ve learned in camp in some more remote locations. Some campers catch fish using flies they tie themselves.

A typical summer includes the following fishing trips, among others:

I.P.F.D. – 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 and fly-fishing instructors 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.

Appalachian Trail Work Trip

Pine Island Camp has been a volunteer maintainer on the Appalachian Trail since the 1950s. Boys sign up for our annual ATC trip early in the summer and spend three days based at Pierce Pond. They clear the five-mile section of trail from Pierce Pond to the Kennebec River.

Maine Woodsman

Achievement in woodcraft at Pine Island culminates in the Maine Woodsman and Junior Maine Woodsman certification program, which includes in-camp instruction, followed by a supervised three-day trip to Pine Island’s Norridgewock camp site. Before leaving Pine Island, campers create a meal plan and prepare their own gear for the trip. At the camp site, campers construct their own sleeping shelters, cook all the food themselves, and pass numerous examinations in essential camping skills.

Expedition Camp

Fifteen-year-old campers at Pine Island have the option of participating in our traditional camp program, which offers rigorous senior camping trips and the opportunity to achieve the highest level of skill development in the camp activities that interest them. For fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds who are looking for a new opportunity and leadership training, we offer Expedition Camp, an intensive program that teaches boys trip planning and takes them on extended camping trips. Boys need not have attended Pine Island previously to enjoy Expedition Camp.

Led by two experienced counselors, Expedition Campers train for and complete two long camping trips. In the past the first trip has been a 13-day canoe trip on the Penobscot, Allagash and St. John Rivers. The second has been a 13-day hike on Vermont’s Long Trail. In between, Expedition Campers have participated in regular activities at Pine Island and completed Wilderness First Aid training and a five-day service project either on Whitehead Island or on Great Pond.

While at Pine Island, Expedition Campers and their counselors live near the landing on the camp’s mainland property. They are housed in two recently renovated cabins; one is a bunkhouse and the other serves as a facility for gathering, planning and socializing.

A key component of the Expedition Camp program is leadership training. Boys are given the opportunity to lead the group several times on their trips. Their leadership skills are critiqued during the trip by the trip leaders. It is the first step many boys take toward eventually becoming effective counselors at Pine Island.

Nightly Entertainment

At night around the campfire we enjoy skits, musical performances, games, and stories of adventure from each returning trip. Participation in Campfire is open to everyone and provides an opportunity for creativity and self-expression that is increasingly rare in today’s digital world.

Every Saturday night, a full-length theatrical piece – the Saturday Night Show – is performed. With titles like Napoleon Pineamite, The Loon King, and The Sound of Marcus, there is never a dull moment. Saturday Night Shows are created entirely by two staff members and a troupe of campers and are always a hit.


Check out even more of what Pine Island Camp has to offer by visiting our photo gallery on SmugMug and our video channel on YouTube.