After two long years apart, campers were thrilled to be back for Pine Tree Camp’s week-long overnight summer camp.
“Campers were ready to come back,” said Pine Tree Camp director, Dawn Willard-Robinson. “They really missed camp and it’s what they were all waiting for.”
Pine Tree Society president and CEO, Noel Sullivan, couldn’t agree more.
“We relaunched overnight camp safely and successfully and made it even more accessible and more exciting than ever for our campers,” he said. “While so much has changed over the past few years, the essence of Pine Tree Camp is stronger than ever. You see it in the faces of our campers, and you hear it from their families.”
Parents appreciated how accepted their children felt and that they were empowered to come out of their shell and try new things.
One parent shared: “To be in a place that is completely accessible where you don’t have to think about your chair or whether you can go here or there, that’s the magic of Pine Tree Camp – you can do everything.”
With safety as a top priority, sessions operated at a reduced capacity with fewer campers in each cabin and full Covid protocols in place. Pine Tree Camp’s food allergy and sensitivity initiative was also enhanced through an updated database of allergy and food sensitivities, master level training and color-coded menu boards.
“Eighteen percent of campers have a known food allergy, sensitivity or specialized diet and we had a success rate of zero allergic reactions,” Dawn said. “Our goal is to provide a seamless dining experience for every camper, no matter what their dietary needs are so they can sit back, relax and have fun.”
As the season turns to fall, campers and their families can continue to come to camp for the day or overnight through Pine Tree Camp Adventure Day Pass and Family Camp. Providing year-round access for families is transformational, allowing fully accessible time together outdoors in every season. Pine Tree Camp is now more accessible than ever with the significant improvements that have been completed to the access road, ensuring it can stay open year-round. All roadways and pathways on campus have been freshly
paved, making them even easier to navigate in all four seasons.
For families who couldn’t make it to Pine Tree Camp, the camp experience came to them through Pine Tree Camp on the Road.
“We know how hard it can be for families to travel to Pine Tree Camp, so we removed that barrier by bringing the Pine Tree Camp experience to them for a summer camp day program,” said Nate Podgajny, assistant director of Pine Tree Camp. “We’re always looking for ways to be more accessible and taking Pine Tree Camp on the Road brings programming to people for whom it’s harder to come to us.”
2022 also saw the addition of Pine Tree Camp’s Dirigo Experience, an immersive camp experience for Deaf youth and the first class of Pine Tree Camp’s new Leadership in Training program, which provides employment training and hands-on learning opportunities for Maine youth.
The vision for 2023 is to expand, innovate and transform more lives than ever. The goal is to return to 100% capacity for overnight summer camp, and expand Adventure Day Pass, Family Camp and Pine Tree Camp on the Road. Dirigo Experience and Leadership in Training are also on track to increase capacity.
“We’re always striving to provide the highest level of quality, care and safety,” Dawn said. “We’re Maine’s only American Camping Association-Accredited camp for people with disabilities and I’m proud to say that, once again, we passed their rigorous accreditation process with flying colors.”