The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the waters were calm as 202 paddlers set out from Evergreens Campground in Solon for a seven-mile kayak trip down the Kennebec to North Anson.
They were paddling for a purpose.
Their goal was to raise $60,000 for the 20th Annual Bath Savings Institution Paddle for Pine Tree Camp.
One of those paddlers was Louann Barnes. Each year, her “West Front Market Team” raises enough money to send one child to camp. “This year we raised enough money to send two kids to camp. Next year, we already have 16 peopled signed up for our team and have set a goal to send three kids to camp.”
All proceeds from the Bath Savings Institution Paddle for Pine Tree Camp directly support the Campership Fund, and are a critical part of the Camp’s open door tuition policy. Since 1945, Pine Tree Camp has welcomed all who could benefit, regardless of their ability to pay.
“Pine Tree’s heart is into it just like ours when we paddle. They fill our hearts and make us feel good. When you feel good, it motivates.”
Team captains like Louann recruited energetic, committed paddlers who traveled from as far away as Connecticut.
Steve Soucy’s “Team Maine and Connecticut Water” had 21 members and 17 paddlers.
“I’m not sure that our employees knew what to expect,” Steve explained. He’d done the paddle many times before with his wife. “I’d described the event to everyone but I could tell they were still surprised by the number of paddlers and volunteers and how many campers with adaptive kayak equipment were there. It was awe inspiring.”
For Steve, it was a great feeling to have everyone together enjoying the outdoors with co-workers and their families.
“It brought everybody together. Everybody was so happy and loved learning about the Camp’s open door policy. We are already planning to do it again next year. It’s the perfect event because it really is for all ages and abilities.”
The smooth operations of the paddle were supported by a team of volunteers who ensured that all aspects of the event ran efficiently – from registration and logistics to water safety to the post-paddle celebratory barbecue.
Tara Nau Burdett was one of those volunteers. She, her husband, and her brother, Aaron, volunteered to help with water safety. “I’ve been wanting to participate for years, and now that we have, I know that we’ll do it every year. It’s a fantastic event.”
They joined volunteers from the Maine Warden Service to be sure paddlers were safe and following the route.
Aaron has been a Camper since 1979 so this paddle has special meaning for her family.
“It was wonderful to see the community out together with the same goal of raising money for campers.”