There is no doubt about it, the 2021 Dysart’s Snowmobile Ride-in to benefit Pine Tree Camp looked quite a bit difffferent than past 47 events due to Covid-19, but the need remained. We are so thankful to everyone who showed their support of Pine Tree Camp by giving as part of the event. We would especially like to thank our sponsors Dysart’s, WABI-TV5 and Q106.5 for their continued support. All proceeds from the “event” have gone right to work supporting Pine Tree Camp’s programming like Adventure Day Pass
Pine Tree Society Blog
Pine Tree Society’s Early Learning Center has plans to replace its aging playset with a multi-faceted playground designed specifically for children with special needs – and the children and staff alike are excited!
“Our new playground will bring an extension of our classroom to the outdoors,” said Karen McClure-Richard, director of Pine Tree Society’s Early Learning Center.
For many of the children, this playground represents their only access to the outdoors.
“A lot of our kiddos don’t have yards at home,” said Karen. “Playing outdoors is so important for their social, emotional and physical development. They are getting most of their outside time when they’re here with us and we’re helping them learn what they can do outside and grow their passion for the outdoors.”
A playground provides many learning opportunities. Not the least of which is learning how to try new things and take risks.
“Taking risks builds confidence,” said Karen. “It teaches them that they can do the hard things. It also teaches them to trust that we are going to be there for support and not let them down.”
The new playground will feature climbing opportunities to work on hand and leg skills as well as separated areas for the slides and swing sets. Allpieces have been specifically designed with various levels of accessibility to ensure that all of the children are able to meaningfully participate. The pieces will promote safe climbing activities to support strengthening muscles and building endurance.
Combining play with the use of big muscles is critical for learning.
“Our brain needs to work left-to- right when reading,” said Karen. “In order for kids to learn that skill, they need to be able to shift focus from one side of their body to the other. For example, many kids use their right hand when something is on their right side, then shift to their left hand for their left side. To develop their brain for reading and writing, we need to teach kids how to cross their body to get things versus switching hands. It’s all connected.”
We’re really providing something special to the Deaf community.”
It’s easy to understand how Joshua’s role as an interpreter fills a critical need by allowing people who cannot hear the opportunity to access the information being communicated during the briefings. What’s not so easy to see — and what makes his ASL interpretating different — is that Joshua is Deaf and ASL is his native language.
“I’m a heritage user of ASL,” he said. “It’s something that’s intrinsic to me.”
To interpret the Maine CDC briefings, Joshua relies on his hearing teammate to listen to what Dr. Nirav Shah says, and then relay that, in sign language, to him. Joshua then signs the information for the viewers, providing critical information so they can make informed decisions in their lives.
“As a Deaf individual, I have a polished and natural way of sharing the briefings,” he said. “Simply put, I take the ASL that the
hearing interpreter provides me and make it easier for the Deaf community to understand.”
ASL is not just finger spelling. New signs are frequently created as needs arise; quickly allowing Deaf people access to information they need in an emergency like the pandemic.
“I first learned of the sign for Covid-19 on February 10, 2020,” said Maura Nolin, Director of Interpreting Services at Pine Tree Society. “A Deaf gentleman travelling back from a conference in Japan did a vlog while he was at the airport sharing that there was a new virus. He showed how it was signed and explained why. The sign he shared quickly went worldwide.”
Pine Tree Society is Maine’s only not-for-profit sign language interpreting agency and is committed to meeting the needs of Deaf people statewide.
“We have always seen technology as playing an important role in meeting the needs of people in rural parts of our state,” said Noel Sullivan, President and CEO of Pine Tree Society. “When Covid-19 hit, we were quickly able to apply our knowledge and capacity to provide the highest quality interpreting services available.”
Megan and Trey weren’t able to get outside very much this winter and the chance to safely spend the day outdoors at Pine Tree Camp was a true highlight.
“We put winter Adventure Day Pass on our calendar and said ‘Yay! We’re going to our happy place!’ Trey loves to be outside and with Covid happening it’s been very difficult for us to get out,” she said.
Access to the outdoors is critical and, during this time of physical distancing, it’s more important than ever, especially during the winter months. Pine Tree Camp Adventure Day Pass featured safe, physically distanced adaptive snowshoeing, ice fishing, sledding, nature exploration and, of course, s’mores by the fire.
Megan and Trey were ready to experience it all.
Pine Tree Camp partnered with the Equip For Living Foundation to provide accessible ice fishing. It was the highlight of Trey’s day.
“The first thing we did was head out to do some ice fishing,” Megan continued. “We took a side-by-side ATV out on the ice. They were really accommodating and had tents with heaters. We watched them drill a hole in the ice for us then baited our lures. Trey got to sit in a camp chair with me and hold the fishing pole. We sat there and bobbed away.”
After lunch, Megan and Trey enjoyed spending a little time by the fire then made snowballs and snowmen together.
“We went at our own pace and that was really nice,” Megan said. “My favorite was sledding. Trey got to sit in the sled with me and we pushed ourselves down
the hill. He loves to go fast and we just kind of flew down. It was so good to get fresh air all day.”
Pine Tree Camp’s winter Adventure Day Pass is an extension of the programming that was launched in July in response to challenges presented by Covid-19.
“The response has been incredible,” said Pine Tree Camp director Dawn Willard-Robinson. “This summer, we had waiting lists for each day we offered Adventure Day Pass, so we expanded into the fall and winter. We welcomed
lots of people who had never been to Pine Tree Camp. The success of this program really illustrates what we already know: fully accessible access to the outdoors is critical.”
L.L.Bean provided funding to ensure Adventure Day Pass continued this winter.
“The good old-fashioned remedy of getting everybody outside has huge restorative benefits,” Dawn continued. “When you want to take a break from your day-to-day routine, sometimes the best thing to do is get outside and try something you’ve never done before. L.L.Bean’s support made that possible.”
Thanks to their support, Megan and Trey created memories that will last a lifetime.
“As people continue to head outside for comfort and connection, we at L.L.Bean support ways to make the outdoors more accessible,” said Christina Semanyshyn, manager, strategic partnerships and corporate giving. “When Pine Tree Society told us about the Adventure Day Pass program and the access it provides for campers
and entire families, we were delighted to support their important mission.”
This spring, Pine Tree Camp will add a fleet of adaptive bikes and launch a biking program. From hand cycles to recumbents, kids of all ages and abilities will be able to ride on the trail system through the woods.
“We can’t wait to try the bikes,” concluded Megan. “It will be an adventure!”
Pine Tree Society’s Community Support program revolves around three words:
Connected. Engaged. Active.
On March 24th Auburn Community Support hosted its first virtual open house! Attendees had the opportunity to experience a day in the life of our clients. The tour gave a look inside Auburn Community Support’s newly renovated building and provided information about the program and how the it has safely kept people connected, active and engaged during the pandemic. Our facility in Auburn features a computer lab, recreation room and plenty of space for safely socializing with friends. Nearby, Pine Tree Camp provides barrier-free access to the outdoors and unique opportunities to experience nature.
Were you unable to attend the event? Have no fear! You can watch a recording here and learn all about the fantastic opportunities provided by Auburn Community Support.
Learn more about Pine Tree Society’s Community Support programs here.
Last Saturday, Connor Clement from WABI TV5 made a visit to Pine Tree Camp to catch a glimpse of the Winter Adventure Day Pass program that kicks off this month! The program will provide safe and accessible access to a wide range of winter activities such as snowshoeing, ice fishing and roasting marshmallows over an open fire. Winter Adventure Day Pass days will run on select week and weekend days through the month of February. Read WABI’s story here.
This week WGME sat down for a virtual interview with Pine Tree Camp’s assistant director Mary Schafhauser. The topic? Pine Tree Camp’s historic transition to into serving Maine people with disabilities year round through the Winter Adventure Day Pass program! Winter Adventure Day Pass days will allow participants to enjoy a wide range of outdoor winter activities such as snowshoeing, ice fishing and snowmobiling, in a safe and fully accessible setting.
Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced today that Community Support programs are approved for reopening – and Pine Tree Society is ready.
“Our team is thrilled to welcome clients back to its Community Support programs in Auburn and Scarborough,” said Shelley Zielinski, director of Pine Tree Society’s Adult Support Services. “We will be re-opening on Monday, February 8 for in-person group programming following the guidance of the CDC.”
Pine Tree Society’s Community Support team has been proactive and responsive to the needs of its clients during this challenging time since the start of the pandemic.
“When it was clear we weren’t going to be able to offer group programming, we evolved to small group and focused on getting out clients outdoors,” said Zielinski. “When numbers continued to increase, we launched one-on-one and remote programming to keep our clients connected, engaged and active during a particularly challenging time for people with disabilities.”
Connected, engaged and active are the words around which the program is built. Learn more about Pine Tree Society’s Community Support. Pine Tree Society offers two program locations in Auburn and Scarborough. The modern, bright spaces are designed to promote social connectedness and meaningful participation. The Auburn location just underwent a major renovation as seen in the video below.
Pine Tree Society’s Community Support is currently accepting new clients at its Scarborough and Auburn locations. Spaces are limited. Contact Shelley Zielinski at (207) 386-5927 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Windows and walls are filling up with eggs at retailers throughout the Newport and Bangor area and beyond. It’s a Maine tradition that’s been going strong for decades and each egg represents a customer’s support of Pine Tree Camp.
This Winter Egg Sale is part of the 48th annual Dysart’s Snowmobile Ride-in and Q106.5 Egg Ride to benefit Pine Tree Camp. Each egg helps Maine people with disabilities experience this barrier-free summer camp on the shores of North Pond where they can leave the confines of their disability behind and fully participate in everything from archery to boating to being in a fully accessible tree house.
Pine Tree Camp doesn’t turn anyone away regardless of their ability to pay and sales of these colorful paper eggs help ensure Maine people with disabilities can go to camp no matter what and have the chance to make friends, try new things and just be themselves and feel accepted.
For the first time ever, the Dysart’s Snowmobile Ride-in and Q106.5 Egg Ride has gone virtual, but the need is very real. Pine Tree Camp receives no state or federal funding and ninety-nine percent of campers require tuition assistance. During Covid-19, Pine Tree Camp continues to serve the community through its innovative Pine Tree Camp to You and Adventure Day Pass programming; providing desperately needed engagement, connection and accessibility for people most at risk for social isolation and lack of access to nature.
Window eggs are available at all Dysart’s locations, A.E. Robinson Convenience Stores, Bear’s One Stop, Danforth’s Down Home Supermarket, Indian Hill Trading Post and Will’s Shop ‘n Save.
This year, for the first time ever, eggs can also be purchased on Pine Tree Camp’s website at this link: https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/PineTreeSociety/BuyAWindowEgg.html
More about Pine Tree Camp: All proceeds from the Dysart’s Snowmobile Ride-in and Q106.5 Egg Ridedirectly benefit Pine Tree Camp’s Campership Fund. Every summer, more than 650 Maine children and adults with disabilities arrive at Pine Tree Camp in Rome and their lives are transformed. Driving down the camp road, campers enter a world that is barrier-free, leaving behind the confines of their disability thanks to the camp’s 285-acre, fully accessible campus. Campers actively participate in all the activities for which Maine is famous – kayaking, boating, fishing and hiking – experiencing freedom and independence. In addition, Pine Tree Camp provides families with much needed respite. Since 1945, Pine Tree Camp has welcomed all who could benefit, regardless of their ability to pay. Pine Tree Camp receives no state or federal funding and ninety-nine percent of campers require tuition assistance. The funds raised from the Dysart’s Snowmobile Ride-in and Q106.5 Egg Ride to benefit Pine Tree Camp are a critical part of the camp’s open door tuition policy.