Archived News Updates
Note: for the latest news updates, visit our News page.
September 15, 2010 - It's amusing to read past end-of-season news updates and see how consistently our perspective on the summer is dominated by the weather. And how varied the weather can be from one summer to the next. If WET was the operative word to describe last year's weather, FABULOUS is this year's. We kept wondering when our streak of good luck was going to end, but it never did, delivering one beautiful, sunny day after another. We had rainy day activities only twice in the summer of 2010, and one of those times we really had them just because people were clamoring for a restful afternoon, since the brief shower had already ended by the time activities began. The heat waves experienced in many parts of the country affected us only minimally, with cooling breezes to be found somewhere on the island even on the hottest days. The 16-day Expedition Camp canoe trip on the Allagash encountered only one rainy day, and Senior Whites and Senior Canoe enjoyed almost uninterrupted sparkling weather. Another great tripping achievement of the summer of 2010 is that not a single person had to be taken off a trip in progress because of illness or injury.
Pine Islanders adapted to changed terrain at York's Crossing in this year's War Game, finding the road to Northwest Gate completely blocked by a huge pine felled during the winter. Pine Island met the challenge, thanks to Ben Rausch, Rip Swan, and the LTIPs, by blazing a new approach to the gate, a change that presented the armies with interesting new challenges as they had to revise their offensive and defensive strategies at Northwest. The game was a close one, with the Blue Army, under General Charlie Boutwell, winning 118-107.
King Kababa's presence was strongly felt during the summer of 2010 as well. Not only did his henchmen appear on the island during campfire on the last night of camp, they also imparted to seekers on the Sacred Journey a bit of previously lost Kababalogical lore, the chant for Pheema the Phorma: Pheema the Phorma the Pheema the Phorma the Pheema the Phorma the Queen of the Ants! This year's Sacred Animal arrived in an impressive display of chainsaw power on the Honk Hall hill, as henchmen brought us a fabulous beaver with miniature Husqvarna chainsaws for teeth, named Buzz the Husky Varnished Beaver. His chant goes like this: Rrrrr! Rrrrr! Logging fever, Buzz the Husky Varnished Beaver!
2010 also saw the second year of adult programs at the Whitehead Light Station on the Maine coast (www.whiteheadlightstation.org), with a repeat of last year's three successful courses - Mindfulness Stress Reduction, Cooking with Daisy, and the Art and Science of Beer. All were taught by Pine Islanders noted in their fields and again were met with rave reviews by participants and instructors alike. If you'd like to keep informed about plans for new opportunities for learning and renewal at the Light Station in 2011, contact Ben at email@example.com.
Although the tents are down and most of the docks are out of the water, Pine Island has remained a busy place this fall. Counselors Ben Rausch, Rip Swan, and Josh Treat spent two weeks in late August and early September working on the island preparing for several construction projects and on the mainland cutting firewood to ensure an ample supply of wood for campfires for the next few years. Although Rip has abandoned the crew for a gap-year trip to Europe, Rausch and Treat remain in residence in the First Cabin and are working with carpenter Dan Trembly re-roofing the Cottage, rebuilding the Boat House floor, shoring up the rickety underpinnings of the O.A.R. Office, and replacing the steps on the South Perch. They will be joined for the annual Sloan Critchfield Memorial Boat Maintenance Workshop the weekend of September 17-19 by a host of volunteers who, under the direction of wooden boat expert Becky Farley, will make repairs to and perform annual maintenance on PIC's large fleet of wooden boats. Camp parent and master chef Sandy Holland will again volunteer her services cooking for the hungry and appreciative horde.
To get a glimpse of Pine Island life during the summer just completed, click on "Photo Gallery" above. You will find not only a gallery of photos from the summer of 2010, but links to a host of galleries going back to the camp's early years, as well as photos from the Whitehead Light Station programs.
January 30, 2010 - On January 30, 2010, Pine Islanders gathered for the camp's largest off-season, off-island gala since 2002's celebration of Pine Island's hundredth anniversary. This time the occasion was a different milestone - the 50th anniversary of Monte Ball's association with Pine Island Camp. One hundred twenty-five people came, from down the street and across the country, for the opportunity to see Monte again and to show their appreciation for his many decades of service to the camp. Monte himself traveled all the way from his home in Bali, Indonesia. The U.S.S. Springfield, one of Pine Island's new Monte Ball - class Bezumarang sailboats, made the trip from Great Pond to the Explorers Club in New York City, where guests were able to marvel at this fine craft, built in Monte's honor with a gift from his long-time friend and fellow naval officer Barry Lindquist and his wife Gloria and his daughter Sarah.
The evening was filled with conversation, fine dining, and pithy speeches. And what Pine Island gathering would be complete without a campfire? With PIC Board of Directors member Charlie Birney serving as O.D., the gathered Pine Islanders sang old favorites like "Charlie and the M.T.A.," "Mountain Dew," and "There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea," enjoyed an alumni version of "If I Were Not a Pine Islander," marveled at the return of sacred animal Venus de Flylow the Flaming Go, and went on a Lion Hunt with none other than Monte himself as trip leader. Campfire ended, as all campfires do, with "Abide with Me."
It was a truly memorable event and a great, great gathering of Pine Islanders. Click here to see some pictures of the evening.
It is amusing to read last year's post-camp wrap-up, which is dominated by the weather: dusty, dry days in the first half of the summer and torrential downpours in the second. Reverse that weather scenario, and you have a capsule view of the 2009 season! And, as in 2008, it was our full house of resourceful, relentlessly upbeat campers and our terrific staff of talented, dedicated, creative, and fun-loving young men and women that made 2009 another great Pine Island summer, rain notwithstanding.
2009 was the wettest summer on record in Maine, and most of that rain was concentrated in June and the first half of July. After a dry first couple of days, the first two weeks of Pine Island's season were cloudy and damp at best, downright rainy at worst. New campers can be forgiven if they were beginning to suspect that their parents had neglected to mention that they were heading off to a camp where the sun just doesn't shine! Most of this summer's Whitehead trips were damp and foggy, and several hiking and canoeing trips experienced considerable wet weather. In fact, our Katahdin trip had to be rerouted because some trails in Baxter State Park were closed due to high water.
But of course spirits remained high among Pine Islanders. Trips returned happy and proud despite the weather challenges they faced. We had more indoor campfires than usual, but we had to resort to rainy day activities only four times, and indomitable Pine Islanders could be seen rowing and sailing through drizzle and fog in early July - and loving it!
As if to repay Pine Islanders' fortitude and resourcefulness, nature smiled on us in the second half of the summer. The later trips, including Senior Whites, Senior Canoe, and the Expedition Campers' hiking trip on Vermont's Long Trail, enjoyed sparkling weather most of the time. And the War Game, last year noted for epic rain and cold, this summer was played in cool, sunny, breezy weather. The Grays, under Will Mason's leadership, chalked up a win, and everyone returned to camp happy and united, proof that once again Pine Island Always Wins!
As hoped, we also received a visit from King Kababa's henchmen, who appeared at Honk Hall during campfire on the last night of camp. They brought a beautiful Sacred Animal (actually two animals, a Blue ant and a Gray ant, engaged in hand-to-hand combat and now in residence in the Dining Hall) called Belle & Cose the Belligerants. Everyone quickly mastered the new animal's chant: Belligerants/Fighting Stance/Fight!/Fight!/Fight!
In addition to another great Pine Island season, 2009 saw the first slate of adult programs at the Whitehead Light Station on the Maine coast. We began in June with a long weekend getaway for PIC parents after dropping their boys off at Pine Island and continued in August with three courses - Mindfulness Stress Reduction, Cooking with Daisy, and the Art and Science of Beer. All were taught by Pine Islanders noted in their fields, and all were met with rave reviews by participants and instructors alike. We look forward to building on this initial success with more opportunities for learning and renewal at the Light Station in future years.
- After a year’s hiatus, Pine
Island’s Family Camp is back in 2009!!
Family Camp is a great way to relax with your family and share a small
slice of the Pine Island experience with them. You can make
it the venue for a mini-reunion with Pine Island friends and their
families, or with your own extended family – grandparents, cousins,
The Family Camp format will be as it always has been: four
days to enjoy the good life on Great Pond with great food, terrific
company, stellar entertainment, comfortable tent living, perfect
swimming and boating, and nothing to do that you don’t feel like
doing. Please note that once again Family Camp starts on a
Thursday and ends on Sunday. Boats to bring you to the island
will start at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 13, and Family Camp will
end after lunch on Sunday, August 16.
In order to keep Family Camp a comfortable and relaxing experience we
must limit enrollment, so please let us know as soon as possible if
you’re planning to join us. Click here for information
and registration materials. If you have any
questions, call (207-729-7714) or e-mail us at
any time. We hope to see you in August!
2008 Farewell Picnic - Click here for a PDF transcript of excerpts from Ben's closing remarks at the 2008 Farewell Picnic.
- The third annual Sloan Critchfield Memorial Boat Maintenance Workshop
took place September 12-14, 2008 at Pine Island. We are able
hold this annual workshop thanks to the generosity of over 200 donors,
whose gifts have created an endowment fund to honor the memory of Pine
Islander Sloan Critchfield. In his short life, Sloan embodied
the best qualities of a Pine Islander – enthusiasm, good humor, a
willingness to take on new challenges, and a love of boats and the
water. Sloan’s exuberant spirit remains alive at PIC in the
maintenance workshop and in the hearts of his many Pine Island friends.
year some 20 volunteers gathered to enjoy the fabulous cooking of Pine
Island parent and volunteer Sandy Holland, whose desserts have become
legendary at PIC, and to perform vital work to keep Pine Island’s large
fleet of wooden boats in tip-top shape. This year’s crew,
the direction of workshop leader Becky Farley, did a lot of
work! The crew sanded and painted the hulls of the four
Pine Island Skiffs and touched up the insides. Nico
Walsh did some much-needed work to the War Yacht's keel, and
boat is now ready for a new coat of special paint in the
spring. Rob Whitehouse did a great deal of work to
G., and that boat will be in excellent shape to
start the 2009
season. Matt and Lindsay Clarke took on the project
repairing a number of Old Town canoes. With help from Harry
Max Huber, and others, they fastened new gunwales and repaired
cracks in the hulls. Others sanded and varnished
sanded and painted the hulls of both Sloan and Betsy. John
Critchfield, with design help from Becky and construction help
from Jack Walsh, completed a rolling cradle to be used
transportation of either Sloan
between the boathouse and
sincere thanks to everyone who came and helped. We
look forward to next season’s weekend.
September 1, 2008 - Despite
– or perhaps because of – the wettest War Game anyone can recall, the
2008 Pine Island season was another triumphant summer. For
experienced the August rains, it was hard to remember the almost arid
first half of July, when dust was a bigger enemy than mud.
With a full
house of 86 campers and a talented, dedicated, creative, and fun-loving
staff, we enjoyed sunny days on the lake, at Whitehead, and on the
trail. Even after rainier weather set in, however, Pine
remained upbeat and active as ever, enjoying in-camp activities and the
usual array of camping trips.
was the War Game, however, that truly tested Pine Islanders’
The drizzle began as the camp was boarding the busses that would take
them to the War Game site some 20 miles away at York’s
persisted throughout practice day and all through the night, and there
were definitely some low moments, when people were wet and downright
cold. There was a welcome respite from the rain during the
of play, though rain – hard rain – resumed that night and continued
until early afternoon on the second day. Through
efforts of assistant director Rhoads Miller, however, tarps were strung
all over the campsite and at the center of town where people could
gather out of the rain, and bonfires were kept blazing to give people
an opportunity to warm up and dry off. In the end, everyone
great time and a truly memorable War Game, and, although the score
ended in a decisive Blue victory, this year more than ever it can be
said that Pine Island Always Wins!
camp season ended with more rain on packing day (the post-camp laundry,
always quite an experience for parents, doubtless presented even more
interesting challenges this year!). But that rain was
brief, and the evening ended in an exciting visit from several of King
Kababa’s henchmen, including one who spent the entire Sacred Ceremony
gracefully gliding around in a canoe setting beautiful circles of fire
afloat in the cove. The rest of the henchmen were in the
presenting to the camp a beautiful spider named Arach-the-Nid, with an
unusual and unforgettable chant: A-rach rach rach rach rach rach
rach, the Nid Nid Nid Nid Nid Nid Nid! The
arrival of a spider as
this year’s Sacred Animal offered a ready explanation for the
predominance of the number 8 in the sacred signs King Kababa had been
sending throughout the summer.
Kababa continued to smile down on Pine Island the next day with a
beautiful, dry day for the Farewell Feed, bringing another great Pine
Island summer to an end. We are already busy with off-season
maintenance and repairs to get the island ready to greet every one back
again in 2009!
October 1, 2007
– We were full to the brim for the 2008 summer season, and although Ben
and I were trying to figure out where we all would live in May, we
found room for everyone by rebuilding tent 19 (now affectionately known
as the “Sky Box”) and by adding a temporary tent platform behind Honk
Hall. The Expedition Campers resided in this tent 22 and in
21 and although they were in camp at the beginning and end of the
season, they spent much of their summer on the trail and on the
water. Of course they returned in time for Club Honk, the
before the camp picture and the annual Regatta. This year’s
Honk pushed the 2-hour mark again with an impressive array of musical
acts featuring an all new all-camper band, The Whipper Snappers, headed
by front man, guitarist and songwriter, Moss Robeson, age 11.
the first half of the summer, we were visited by Boston Globe
reporter, Jenna Russell, who stayed on the island with us for a full
day and night gathering information for her wonderful story “Nature
Makes a Comeback,” appearing on the front page of the
Saturday edition of the Globe
on July 7. This wasn’t the only time Pine Island appeared in
print. A story by Ben Swan and David Stimson about the
of the Sloan and Betsy and
the legacy of wooden boats at Pine Island appeared in the October issue
of Wooden Boat Magazine.
The camp season reached its climax in Norridgewock at the War Game,
where the Grays were victorious for the first time in 5
spite of the fierce competition, we held together tightly as a camp
community. King Kababa must have been satisfied as we were
with a beautiful sacred animal, Ozzy, the Awesome Osprey, in a sacred
ceremony where 8 or more henchmen were in attendance, the most seen on
the island in recent years. And the camp season was concluded
with a beautiful Fareweel Feed picnic, awards ceremony, and all-star
campfire where camp parents were given a taste of the incredible 2007
summer on Great Pond.
Less than one week
after camp, we welcomed a new group of visitors to the island for Family Camp.
This year’s crew was a wonderful bunch, and good times were shared by
all. The kids on the island, in addition to participating in
regular slew of exotic activities (Belgrade Cruise in the KWS, the
Flotilla, and the annual hike up Mt. Philip), seemed particularly
inspired to catch fish in their free time, and more than one large bass
was pulled off the hook.
With the conclusion
Camp, we took down the tents and pulled out many of the
docks, but not all, in anticipation of the 2nd annual Sloan
Critchfield Memorial Boat Workshop
weekend, which ran from Sept. 14 – 16 this year. This
mid-September weekend has proven to be a glorious time on the Lake,
where the Sun warmed us by day and temperatures dipped into the lower
forties at night. The leaves were already beginning to show
evidence of autumn and the lake was quiet and peaceful. We
incredible amount of work done with our 30-member crew, where we sanded
and painted the dories, boat souped the War Yacht,
and varnished the bright work on the Sloan and Betsy,
our 12 ½ ft catboats. This weekend is a wonderful opportunity
volunteer at Pine Island, helping us with very important maintenance
while enjoying time on the island with friends and family.
we bid goodbye to the last of our volunteers, Ben, Rhoads, and I put
the finishing touches on closing up camp for the winter. The
docks stayed in as Rhoads Miller will be working on various projects
through the fall, until the ice makes the passage impossible.
and I returned to our respective homes and immediately began
preparations for a busy recruiting season this fall. After
mailing current campers registration forms with a
Nov. 1 deadline, and mailing prospective campers
we set out a thorough travel schedule with a big trip planned for
October visiting Washington DC, Philadelphia, New Canaan, Bedford,
Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Due to the enormous interest in camp
2007, where we were full by February, and the recent press exposure in The
Boston Globe and Wooden
Boat, we expect to be full before Christmas this
year. In fact, we are only accepting s
from new campers until we know after the Nov. 1 deadline for returning
campers how many spots are available. When a spot opens, we
send prospects a registration form that will
deposit to secure a spot for 2008. After the October trip,
and I will be visiting Chicago and Boston together, while branching off
to visit New England and the South separately.
addition to this busy recruiting schedule, we are working hard at
preparing the Whitehead Light Station for its debut of adult programs
in 2008. The Keeper’s House is under renovation
under the supervision of Nick Buck who will work hard through the
winter to complete the project. A septic system is going in
facilitate the private bathrooms that are being installed in each of
the bedrooms in the house. Art Tibett has already begun
rebuilding the old stone pier off the island and rebuilding the seawall
on the mainland at Topside. We have commissioned Daisy
for our first adult program where she will be teaching a cooking
workshop. We have also been talking to several other
to lead similar workshops and hope to publish a schedule very
soon. If you are interested in attending Daisy’s workshop or
of the other programs, please get in touch with us.
In addition to the adult workshops, we will pilot several other
programs on Whitehead using the facility, including private and shared
family rentals and private business retreats. The new
Light Station website is under development so stay tuned for a link
where you can learn all about it.
you can see, this is a very exciting time for Pine Island Camp in many
different areas. We will need your continued support as we
on these new programs, so please help as you are able. Look
this year’s edition of The Pine Needle, with a
account of the news from the 2007 summer and Whitehead Light Station
updates. If you would like to be added to our mailing list to
receive The Pine Needle, and other mailings,
please contact Joe
Kovaz via email. Thanks for reading and…
Follow this link to read the article featuring Pine Island Camp, appearing in the Boston Globe on July 7 this summer:
Nature Makes a Comeback
Or dowload a printable version here:
Nature Makes a Comeback (printable pdf version)
February 28, 2007
started a waiting list for campers for the 2007 season in mid-January,
we are now concentrating on building another all-star
staff. The bulk of the staff is on board, but we
looking for good young people to talk with about the best summer job in
the world, working at Pine Island. We are also traveling to
various cities to introduce future campers and their families to Pine
Island. We already have many families interested in the 2008
season, and we expect to meet more in the next two months. It
seems certain that Pine Island will fill even earlier next
One of the keys to our enrollment success
has been the Gateleaders,
the newest volunteer
for Pine Islanders. The Gateleaders, named for the key
Pine Island’s War Game, are parents and alumni who have been
recruited to help director Ben Swan and associate director Joe Kovaz
introduce new families to Pine Island. In their first year,
have already made a tremendous difference, and they will certainly hit
the ground running next September.
One can also volunteer in three other ways. The Early Bird
weekend is just before the counselors arrive in June and gives us a
head start with the work of setting up camp for the summer.
Bird this summer will be June 7-10. Ned Bishop runs the show,
which consists of putting up tents, repairing things that may have
broken over the winter, moving boats, and cleaning up. We
good food and bracing 100% dips! Early Bird is a tremendous
and gets the summer off to a smooth start. We are
actively recruiting War
This year the War Game will be August 2 and 3. We
a place for you to stay at Pine Island and will teach you the
ropes. While the thick rule book may be daunting,
most valuable is a love of the game and an impartial (yes, it’s
hard) eye. It is hard work and challenging, but great fun and
tremendous service to the boys, staff, and PIC. We also will
running the 2nd Annual
Sloan Critchfield Boat Workshop Weekend
in September. The first one was a huge success, as
volunteers sanded and painted seven rowboats inside and out and worked
on paddles and oars. We had fabulous food and great September
weather. This is an opportunity you don’t want to
miss. You can find out more about any of these
opportunities by e-mailing associate director Joe Kovaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is also exciting news about the new programs Pine
Island will start in 2008 at the Whitehead
Work Scheduled for Spring 2007
As Pine Island prepares to launch programs
Whitehead Island Lightstation in the summer of 2008, several major
construction projects that will make the facility ready to receive
visitors have been scheduled. Pine Island has hired three
different firms to complete the projects.
next spring local marine contractor Art
Tibbetts and his crew will arrive with their specially-equipped barge
to rebuild the dock in Boathouse Cove and the ramp to the old Coast
Guard boathouse. They will repair the existing
pier, build a 12-foot wide ramp from the shore to the
They will then install a 32’ float and a 50’ aluminum ramp
so that passengers can unload on the float and walk up the ramp to the
pier. Art Tibbetts has build dozens of fine docks
area, most notably the bridge from Spruce Head to Burnt
He expects to start work as soon as weather permits in the
Pine Island alumnus Karl Kasper has volunteered his time and expertise
to help Pine Island select, permit, and arrange the construction of a
septic system for the Lightstation. The first dwelling at the
Whitehead Lightstation was build in 1803, so certainly privies were
used for at least a century. Eventually the Coast Guard
indoor plumbing, but simply piped the sewage overboard. The
recent system included showers and flush toilets and a settling tank
between the house and the ocean. The new system, one already
on many islands, is essentially a small sewage treatment plant that
will by necessity (there is almost no soil on all those rocks) be an
above ground system. The system should be in place by the
of the summer of 2007.
Extensive work will be done on both the
interior and the exterior of the Keeper’s House, which will
provide bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and dining facilities, and meeting
rooms for program participants during the spring and summer of 2007.
Professional contractors have been engaged to replace all the windows;
replace the clapboards on the first floor and the shingles on the
second floor; and scrape, repair, and paint all the trim.
a contractor has been chosen to do all the necessary rewiring and
plumbing, including adding a bathroom downstairs. In
both upstairs bathrooms will be refurbished and the house will be
furnished. We are looking into the feasibility of supplying
water with a solar hot water system.
Pine Islander and volunteer Jim Eklund has already restored the outside
of the Schoolhouse, a small building behind the Keeper’s House,
and next summer will oversee the completion of the interior, including
installing a bathroom, so that the building can be used as a residence.
Island Board Committee At Work on Program Development
A ten-member committee of Pine Island’s board of directors is now
at work on developing the programs that will be offered at the
Lightstation. The committee includes two members of the
Ben Swan and Tom Yoder, and eight non-board
are currently wrestling with decisions concerning what kind of programs
Pine Island should offer at the Lightstation, who the target audience
should be, how long they should be, and, of course, the financial
realities of starting up and running them. The Pine Island
has already done considerable market research both inside and outside
the Pine Island community. When programs begin in 2008 they begin with
the fundamentals in place that will enable them to succeed over time and
to adhere to Pine Island’s mission. Stay tuned for
announcements next fall or winter of programs in which you can
We hope that you read the above article in the Pine Needle
recently and have been able to catch up on plans for
Whitehead. If you have not received the Pine Needle,
please e-mail Joe Kovaz at the address above right away and we will
send you a copy and be sure your address is correct on our mailing list.
It is of great importance to Pine Island that we have your current mailing address
and e-mail address. Some of you are still listed at your
parents’ home and others are simply lost. Please take a
moment to e-mail Joe of you think we may not have your address or if
you would simply like to give
us your e-mail address. Also, if you
know a Pine Islander who is not receiving our mailings, please
send us a name and address right away. Maintaining an
list of alumni is an ongoing and daunting task and we need all the help
we can get.