Rob Nesbitt from WCSH6 visited Pine Tree Camp and the story was featured on a segment of 207. The segment struck a cord with viewers and quickly reached over 12,000 views. To read the story and watch the segment, click here.
Pine Tree Society will be exhibiting at the Aroostook County Autism Conference, being held on October 7, 2016 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. The conference is hosted by the Aroostook Autism Support Group and will feature speakers on topics including Education Rights for Students with Disabilities, Coexisting Conditions, and Med Management.
Registration is now open. Please follow the link below to sign up:
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.”
Camp Communicate welcomed campers who “talk” with touchscreens from around Maine and beyond during the week of June 28 – July 2, 2016.
Camp Communicate is an innovative retreat designed specifically for non-verbal children who use computerized devices to communicate. The children enjoy a unique opportunity to spend time with other augmentative communicators in an accessible summer camp environment. During their stay, they learn new skills, meet new friends and become more comfortable and confident in their communication abilities, all while enjoying traditional summer camp activities such as art and crafts, drama and swimming. Their family members also attend camp to enjoy a week of networking, enrichment activities, and respite time on the beautiful 285 acre campus on North Pond.
Camp Communicate caught the attention of the local media. Reporters from WLBZ2/WCSH6 and WABI TV5 spent time with campers and their families and shared their stories. Here are the reports:
This winter, Pine Tree Society expanded its programming to Auburn through the acquisition of Pathways, Inc.
“It is in our Strategic Plan to develop satellite locations and Lewiston-Auburn rose to the top as an underserved area where we could have immediate impact,” said Noel Sullivan, President & CEO. “Pathways had programs in place for young children, adults and seniors that we were able to begin working with versus starting from scratch.”
For Shelley Zielinski, Adult Services Supervisor, this acquisition has already made a difference in the community. “For many, the perception of Pathways was that it was a work program when, in fact, the programming includes early learning, community support, case management and so much more. Pine Tree Society has helped with all of that.”
Karen McClure-Richard, Director of The Early Learning Center, agrees. “The support and excitement is there.”
The Early Learning Center provides early intervention and special education programming for children ages three through six.
“It’s important to identify the needs of children as early as possible. It helps so much with their success,” continued McClure-Richard. “Our program identifies what each child needs to be successful in school. When a child transitions to kindergarten, we already understand what they need to succeed and we develop a plan for the school so they can utilize all the things we have learned about how that particular child learns.”
Offered in partnership between the Autism Transition Program and Pine Tree Camp staff, the retreat programming is designed to promote social connections, social skills and self discovery in a beautiful natural environment.
Pine Tree Camp offers 285 fully accessible acres with staff who have experience and expertise designing and offering programming for people of all abilities and all ages.
Through participation in fun-filled seasonal, nature-based and self-exploration activities including hikes, dream book creation, outdoor games, team building activities, and, of course, making s’mores around the campfire, participants will:
The retreat also offers a respite opportunity to parents/caregivers, whether they choose to participate at Pine Tree Camp or return to their home. A parent/caregiver may attend with the individual, but caregiver participation is not necessary. For those who stay, we will offer opportunities to connect, network and enjoy plenty of respite and relaxation.
Noah has a goal of attending college when he graduates. Alannah is a high school sophomore looking for a part time job. Kate just turned 20 and would like to be able to live on her own. These goals might sound like those any young person in Maine would strive for, but there is one key difference that makes their goals unique: Noah, Alannah, and Kate all have autism. For them, achieving their ambitions takes extra commitment and effort.
Noah’s focus for the last year-and-a-half has been graphic design and that’s what he’s planning to study. Pine Tree Society’s Autism Transition Program is a step toward meeting that goal.
“I’ve watched him grow socially to the extent that he even offered up information himself during the program, which shocked me because he doesn’t usually do that,” said his mother, Stacey.
She finds that the workshops he’s taken part in have helped him immensely, not just with the topic at hand but with unexpected things. “The arts and crafts program really helped with his dexterity. I didn’t expect that,” she said.
The recent Autism Transition Career Exploration workshop was designed to help participants explore what types of jobs would be right for them based on their interests and skills.
He’s learning the importance of making eye contact, listening, and following directions. All skills he’ll need to succeed in college.
Alannah’s parents have been surprised at how she’s expanded socially in the program and how her patience has increased. Her mother Margaret recalled how, before her participation in this program, she didn’t have any patience at all.
“Over time in the class she’s been gaining patience with the other kids,” she said. They’ve found it helpful to have her attend the Autism Transition Program on the younger side.
“Early on, people told us to expose her to as many different things as we can, as early as we can because it will take her longer to learn,” she said. “Her next step is to get a part time job and the next workshop is perfect timing for that because she’ll be learning how to fill out job applications.”
Kate graduated from high school a year-and-a-half ago and lives with her parents. “She gains confidence and independence being out in the community in this program,” said her mother Alicia. “I think of the classes as an opportunity for her to get a taste of the real world in a safe setting. She’s with other kids who have the same issues. We can tell she likes it because she always wants to go back and she gets prepared before class. The people who lead the program are so invested and willing to help. Everybody we have dealt with has been amazing.
“They are all very capable and caring. This program is a very good step for Kate.”
Kate’s parents want her to be as independent as can be, and she wants that too.
“Which is why we’re constantly trying to find programs like this that are the right fit for her to gain independence and social skills.”