Linda Bonnar of Brunswick started paddling for Pine Tree Camp 22 years ago at the very first paddle. She was a counselor supervisor at the time.
“I was just out of college and thought I had the world by the tail,” recalled Bonnar. “I learned so much about myself at Pine Tree Camp and that there were so many more things important in life besides just myself. I learned my work ethic there.”
It was while working at Pine Tree Camp that she developed her love for working with people.
“I saw how important Pine Tree Camp was to so many people,” she continued. “Campers live for camp. There are no barriers and it’s a place where they are immersed in activities and feel just like everybody else. When camp ends, they can’t wait to come back next year to see their friends.”
Bonnar earned her master’s degree while working at Pine Tree Camp and knew that Pine Tree Society is where she wanted to have her career. “They had a mission that met who I was as a person.”
She spent 16 years working at Pine Tree Camp. Today, she is the Director of Communication Pathways, Pine Tree Society’s speech language and Assistive Technology program, and has been with the organization for over 30 years.
“It’s one way to give back to a place that gave me so much. I know how important it is and how challenging it can be for families financially. We’ve always very much believed in an open door policy. No one is ever held back due to an inability to pay. The paddle is one way I can give back to help keep that open door policy in place.”
Bonnar’s goal is to raise $1900, enough money to send one camper to Pine Tree Camp this year.
This year’s paddle is also particularly meaningful for her personally.
“This year is very special for me. A person at camp who I was very close to when I was young died this year. He was a mentor who did a lot for me. I feel very blessed to have known him. He was a person who made us realize why camp was important and that the campers always came first. I’m paddling in his memory to celebrate knowing him and to keep his drive for camp alive.”