The drizzle stopped and skies cleared just in time as more than 150 paddlers set out from Evergreens Campground in Solon for a dry, cool, seven-mile kayak trip down the Kennebec to North Anson.
They were paddling for a purpose with a goal to raise funds to support Pine Tree Camp in the 21st Annual Bath Savings Institution Paddle for Pine Tree Camp.
One of those paddlers was Senator Nate Libby from Lewiston.
“Paddling is a change to our very busy lives. It’s a chance to slow down, be reflective and do something for a good cause.”
For the third year, Nate’s friends and family paddled together as Team Jude. His eight-year-old son Jude attended Pine Tree Camp for the first time last summer.
“We actually paddled the year before Jude attended camp. We heard about Pine Tree Camp’s outstanding program and wanted to support it.”
After their first paddle, they toured the camp with Jude.
“Once we saw the facility and how much the staff cares, we felt very comfortable and knew it would be enriching for him. The staff was so professional and caring. It felt good.”
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 policy. Since 1945, Pine Tree Camp has welcomed all who could benefit, regardless of their ability to pay. Ninety-nine percent of campers cannot afford to pay the tuition and this paddle is a major fundraiser to ensure they can attend not just this summer, but for years to come.
The smooth operations of the paddle were supported by the Maine Warden Service and a team of volunteers who ensured all aspects of the event ran efficiently – from registration and logistics to water safety to the post-paddle celebratory barbecue.
Fifteen-year-old camper Tristan Bouchard from Farmington was one of those volunteers. He was there early helping direct traffic. Then he and his family hit the river for the paddle.
“He loves being part of the volunteer crew. If somebody has on an orange vest and a radio, that’s what he wants to do,” said his mother, Amy.
Tristan started coming to Pine Tree Camp when he was in elementary school and Tristan’s Terrific Team has been paddling ever since.
“He feels that by raising money at the paddle to help other kids attend camp, he will always be able to meet new friends and see old friends when he’s there.”
Paddlers will continue to turn in pledges and donors can support the Bath Savings Institution Paddle for Pine Tree Camp until July 1st.