Mike Towle starting coming to Pine Tree Camp when he was 10. Now a sophomore at Nokomis Regional High in Newport, he looks forward to returning every year.
“He loves everything about it,” said his mom Sue Towle.
Now that he’s 16 she laughs that he particularly loves the independence away from mom. “It’s hard for me when he goes. It’s quiet at home when he’s at camp. But it’s also my time. I can do what I want without worrying.”
For Sue, Pine Tree Camp is perfect for anyone with a disability. “They respect the individual for who they are. It’s a comfortable place. They know who I am and always say ‘Hello Mrs. Towle.’ Mikey loves it there.”
When asked what his favorite thing at camp is, he said without hesitation “Fishing.” He likes catching bass and being out in the boat even though the “water is cold.”
“I remember the first time I dropped him off. A friend brought us because I didn’t know where it was. I can see him in the craft building with his friends. And at the going away party he was dancing and I tapped him on the shoulder and jokingly asked if I could cut in. He said ‘No, Ma. I’m with a girl.’ and waved me away. We had a good laugh over that. I remember it just like yesterday.”
Adam Friend, Sales Manager at Hartley’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Newport said his family’s business has always been involved with the annual Dysart’s Snowmobile Ride-in by supporting the auction and fireworks, but becoming a Pine Tree Camp 100 sponsor last year was the first time they “got involved in a big way.”
The financial support from Hartley’s helps keep Pine Tree Camp’s open door policy firmly in place by raising funds for Mike to attend the weeklong summer program.
It’s important to Hartley’s to support a camper from the local area. “It’s not about selling cars. It’s about seeing a kid from our community with a smile on their face.”
The smile on Mike’s face couldn’t have been bigger than when he received a medal for fishing and an award for being the Best Angler.
“Pine Tree Camp does a great job. We just thought it was the right thing to do.”