Pine Tree Camp has undergone many improvements over the years to ensure the highest level of care, comfort and safety of our campers, but one thing remains the same: the view never changes!
After many years of work, the majority of our iconic buildings have been modernized and winterized. This not only addresses our campers’ needs, it makes our buildings much easier to keep clean and allows Pine Tree Camp to offer its transformational programming all year long.
“Now that we can offer programming year-round, the sky is the limit,” said camp director Dawn Willard-Robinson. “Having winterized buildings allows us to think outside of the box. This year we’re adding adult specialty weekends in the fall, winter and spring to give our adult campers the chance to spend extra time out in nature throughout the year. There’s a big need for that.”
When people think of Pine Tree Camp, they often think of the kids we serve. Many of the people who first came to camp as children are now adults who continue to return to this special place every year.
“We have a lot of adult campers and they are an aging population that really needs support,” Dawn said. “We have one camper who is now almost 60 years old and has been coming to camp since she was eight. She has never missed a single summer.”
Her home in southern Maine doesn’t provide her much access to nature and, each year when she gets to Pine Tree Camp, the woods are the first place she wants to be.
Dawn recalled, “She sits outside all the time when she’s here. You always see her reading a book on the porch of her cabin or going down the trails in her wheelchair to the woods. It’s where she finds peace.”
In addition to updating our buildings for the comfort and safety of campers, the team at Pine Tree Camp has also been deliberately developing and improving access to camp’s unique features. The next focus is an exciting project to expand the trail system.
For so many of our campers, Pine Tree Camp is the only place they are able to access nature. Knowing that is the reality, we are constantly working to create more nature-based experiences.
“Our Pine Tree Camp alumni remember the original trail as the one that went out to the overnight camp area,” Dawn continued. “It wasn’t accessible for many campers and most had to get to the overnight area by boat or via the trail through the Preston Woods area.”
About 20 years ago, Greg Ouellette, the former director of Pine Tree Camp and executive director of Pine Tree Society led a project to build a nature trail to the overnight area. A trail at the other end of camp followed a few years later.
Pine Tree Camp is now undertaking the next phase of trail development, which entails joining the two existing trails to create a three-mile loop.
“These trails are necessary for our campers to experience and explore the woods,” Dawn noted. “The trails are wide and fairly level, yet they meander and wind around so there’s lots to discover along the way. The new section of trail we’re designing has huge glacial boulders that campers will get to go around so they can see how big they are. There’s also a bridge over a little stream that we’ll get to go over now.”
Campers will also have the chance to see vernal pools, eagle nests, blue heron, loons and an active beaver dam. There’s even a spot where an eagle comes to the trail and leaves shells.
For Dawn, “Camp has changed over the years, but the heart of camp remains the same. We love having alumni come see the improvements and our door is always open for a visit.”