Local scouts rally in attempt to save Camp Bomazeen

(left to right) Dalton Curtis, Zachary LeHay and Connor Keimel

Submitted by Chuck Mahalaris

Scouts from across the area are busy working on a new and difficult project. If they are successful, there is no merit badge for them to receive but something even better. They hope to save their beloved Scout Camp – Camp Bomazeen.

Dalton Curtis, of Skowhegan, Dawson White, of Sidney, and Zachary LeHay, of Oakland, are some of the Scouts who have begun circulating a petition to save Camp Bomazeen. The Scouts visited leaders during the recent Kennebec Valley District Scouter Recognition Dinner/ Program Kick Off at Camp Bomazeen. They asked them to sign the petition that night and to ask if any Scouts in their Pack and Troop want to help collect more signatures in their area. The petitions will be presented to the Pine Tree Council Executive Board at an upcoming meeting. In July, the council executive board voted to sell the camp this year – its 75th anniversary since opening.

Life Scout Connor Keimel, of Troop #401, Sidney, is one of the Scouts taking part in the petition drive and said, “Bomazeen has been a camp that I have gone to for so many years. I have made so many memories here. It would be such a shame if other Scouts coming forward didn’t have the opportunity to go there.” Eagle Scout Dalton Curtis, of Troop #485, in Skowhegan, said he learned to swim at Bomazeen and he loves all of the aquatics activities. Zachary LeHay, a Second Class Scout, from Oakland, said that he enjoys the camp in all the seasons. He has taken part in winter camping trips there and week-long summer camp experiences. Star Scout Dawson White, of Troop #401, in Sidney, loves the shooting sports program at Camp Bomazeen. “I have never been to another Scout camp. I just love it and would hate to lose it.”

Dalton’s mother, Tammy James, said that he has been working hard on collecting signatures but it has been hard with Covid-19. “Some people aren’t really happy about us going to their doors even with masks on,” she said. “But he is continuing to work on his sheet and will be bringing it to the troop leaders’ meeting. He really has gotten so much from his time at Camp Bomazeen. He would live there if he could.”

Former Camp Bomazeen Director Bruce Rueger, of Waterville, praised the Scouts for their effort. “I was heartened to see the Scouts doing this,” Rueger said. “They clearly have formed a strong bond with the camp. I think that is what happens. You spend so much of your time camping at Bomazeen, taking part in camporees there, working on merit badges there, learning about nature, exploring the world around you and discovering things about yourself as you do – it becomes a part of who you are and you want to preserve it for others. Camp Bomazeen has given to them and generations that have come before them and now they want to give back when Bomazeen needs their help the most. Bomazeen has made a remarkable difference in so many people’s lives since it was given to Scouting by Dr. Averill in 1944. Some of our Scouts went on to serve in the military, help the needy and run large corporations. Peter Vigue, CEO of Cianbro, in Pittsfield, was a Bomazeen Scout in 1959 as was his son and grandson as well. ”

Chris Bernier, of Winslow, runs the Bushcraft Program at Bomazeen which is a living history program designed to teach Scouts skills such as Native lore, blacksmithing, outdoor cooking, muzzle-loading, basket-making, metal working, woodworking, candle making, to hide tanning. The program transports Scouts from today back to the pioneer days of the 1840s. Before joining the staff, Bernier was a Scout at Camp Bomazeen. “I think that the Scouts wish to do this it is a great way for them to practice citizenship,” Bernier said. “They see something wrong and they are peacefully trying to make it better. They wish to see an active change and to do so in this manner is practicing what they learned in their citizenship badges. In this case Citizenship in the Community – the community of Scouting for them and future Scouts.”

Scouts from several communities including Jackman, Skowhegan, Sidney, Oakland, and Augusta are working the petitions that they began circulating on August 12. They hope to convince the Scouting Executive Board to reconsider their vote to sell the camp and, if not, that they hope to convince whatever entity buys the property to allow the Scouts to continue to use it as they have for the past 75 years.

For those who would like to lend their name to the petition but would not like a Scout to visit due to Covid-19 concerns, email FriendsofBomazeen@gmail.com or send a message to the Facebook page Friends of Bomazeen. Be sure to include your name, town and what Bomazeen means to you.

Golf Fore Kids Sake set for Belgrade Lakes and Rockport

Photo courtesy of BBBSMM

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine (BBBSMM) invites local businesses, organizations and individuals to sign up to Golf Fore Kids’ Sake at two of Maine’s top golf courses, located in Belgrade Lakes and in Rockport, to support local youth mentoring. Teams are comprised of four golfers and registration includes course challenges and lunch. Funds raised will go directly toward BBBSMM community and school-based mentoring programs throughout eastern, central and coastal Maine.

BBBSMM Executive Director Gwendolyn Hudson said Golf Fore Kids’ Sake is among the agency’s largest fundraisers and is critical this year to help offset a substantial financial shortfall due to cancelled fundraising events affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“We are expecting a loss of $150,000 in funding this year due to rescheduled and canceled events. Funding is especially critical at this time to continue to support our most vulnerable children, our Littles, when they need their mentors the most,” Hudson said. “Whether you golf, sponsor, donate or volunteer, participating in Golf Fore Kids’ Sake this year will help keep kids connected.”

Both Golf Fore Kids’ Sake tournaments will feature pre-scheduled tee-times and lunch on the course to allow social distancing. The first tournament, Kennebec Valley Golf Fore Kids’ Sake, presented by Kennebec Savings Bank, will be held Friday, Sept. 4 at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. Teams are accepted first-come, first-served. Sponsorship opportunities are available. To register or sponsor, contact Mae at 207.592.4616 or email mae@bbbsmidmaine.org.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine’s Midcoast 2020 Golf Fore Kids’ Sake tournament, presented by Machias Savings Bank, will be held Friday, Sept. 25, at Samoset Resort Golf Club in Rockport, Maine. This is also a pre-registered tee-time event. Sponsorships are available. To register or sponsor the Samoset event, contact Sophie at 207.236.2227 ext. 102 or email sophie@bbbsmidmaine.org.

Businesses can support Golf Fore Kids’ Sake by becoming sponsors, donating prizes, registering teams to participate or by donating auction items. Event volunteers are also welcome.  For more information, visit bbbsmidmaine.org or call 207.236.2227. END

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine creates and supports one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth in Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Penobscot, Somerset, and Waldo Counties. By partnering with parents, volunteers and organizations, children in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs have higher aspirations, greater confidence, better relationships, avoid risky behaviors and achieve educational success. To enroll a child, become a Big, donate, or learn more about volunteering, call 207.236.BBBS (2227).

Area scouts receive recognition for patch design

Scott Adams, left, head of the Bomazeen Old Timers, of China, presenting check to Zachary LeHay, of Troop #401, from Sidney. (contributed photo)

New design to celebrate 75 years of Camp Bomazeen

Patch is the design from Dalton Curtis that will be used by the Bomazeen Old Timers to fundraise for their efforts to provide ongoing support for Camp Bomazeen.

Scouts Dalton Curtis, of Skowhegan Troop #485, and Zachary LeHay, of Sidney Troop #401, both received $75 prizes from the Bomazeen Old Timers on August 12 during a special presentation at Camp Bomazeen. The Scouts had drawn the two winning patch designs during the camp’s 75th anniversary season celebration.

Initially, they were to receive $75 camperships to attend Camp Bomazeen but when the camp did not open due to Covid-19, Scott Adams, of China, head of the Bomazeen Old Timers, opted to present both Curtis and LeHay with their prize during the annual Kennebec Valley District Scout Leader Re­cog­nition Dinner/ Program Kick-Off.

Curtis had planned to work at Camp Bomazeen’s kitchen this summer and LeHay was planning to attend with his troop. Adams said the patches will be used to help raise money for the Bomazeen Old Timers, which is a group of camp alumni dedicated to help the camp.

Submitted by Chuck Mahaleris

Scott Adams, left, head of the Bomazeen Old Timers, of China, presenting check to Dalton Curtis, of Troop #485, from Skowhegan. (contributed photo)

FISHY PHOTOS: Brother & Sister Act

Hunter Hallee, left, 14, of Rome, displays the nice brown trout he caught while fishing with his maternal grandfather, Terry Greenleaf, of Oakland, and his sister, Megan Hallee, 11, displays her own brown trout. They were fishing on Great Pond, in Belgrade. Hunter and Megan are the children of Ryan and Rachel Hallee, of Rome.

Camp Bomazeen holds Klondike Derby

Camp Bomazeen photo credit: Camp Bomazeen, BSA Maine

Submitted by Chuck Mahaleris

Camp Bomazeen, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, hosted the 2020 Scout Klondike Derby on February 1. Approximately 100 Scouts and leaders attended the frosty fun time on the shores of North Pond where Scouts competed in challenges that were both fun and designed to test their Scouting knowledge.

Camp Bomazeen Director Julie McKinney served as the chairman of the event. “What a Great day! Weather was just right. So many smiles,” she said. “It went nicely. We had Scouts from the Skowhegan, Augusta, Winthrop, Gardiner and Waterville areas take part including both boy and girl troops.

It was great to show off camp and how much fun it is in all of Maine’s seasons.” She said that Scouts were part of a patrol and each patrol pushed a dog sled from one of ten stations to the next competing in challenges such as lashing, first aid, fishing, etc. The sled carried all the gear they had brought that they would need to complete the challenges. “Water boiling was a challenge for some of the Scouts as some didn’t know how to get the fire going outdoor on the wet ground in a short amount of time.

“Tomahawk-throwing was a huge fun event that everyone loved and slingshot shooting was a hit as well,” she said. McKinney praised the Scouting volunteers who helped plan and run the event. One of the leaders of the event was Scott Adams, of China, who said that his Scouts in Troop #479 “had a good time. It was a great event.”

North Pond Watershed Protection plan phase one a success

photo: Google satellite view

by Linda Rice,
Secretary of North Pond Association

The North Pond Association, in partnership with the Seven Lakes Alliance, received a 319 Grant awarded in the fall of 2018 for $80,000. This grant money along with matching funds was to be used in 2018 and 2019 to implement projects initially recommended in the North Pond Watershed-Based Protection Plan. The NPA is proud to say that it has successfully completed the Phase I projects. Charlie Baeder from Seven Lakes Alliance was, and is, the project manager and without him, the following accomplishments would not have been possible.

In 2018, the Maine Department of Transportation matched funds to add riprap and pre-seeded erosion control blankets along Rte. 137, specifically on the shoreline property belonging to 170 Lake View Drive. The DOT was also tasked in repairing or replacing some culverts along Lake View Drive. Continuing the 2018 projects, the town of Smithfield matched $15,000 to stabilize a 300-foot-long embankment on North Shore Drive with riprap, seeding and hay. Approximately 225 feet was completed. Finally, in 2018, a thorough survey was conducted by Seven Lakes Alliance Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) and NPA at Pine Tree Camp to confirm erosion sites that could be mitigated with Best Management Practices (BMPs) beginning in 2019.

In 2019, second year of the Phase I Protection Plan, at least 19 erosion sites at Pine Tree Camp were repaired by the YCC including adding erosion control paths, crushed rock drip lines, armoring drainage ditches and a rain garden. The NPA’s financial support of the YCC as well as Pine Tree Camp’s monetary contribution for materials for those projects were the grant match needed to set Pine Tree Camp on the right course to slowing down erosion and runoff and protecting the water quality of North Pond. Also, the NPA contracted Lynch Landscaping to finish the 170 Lake View Drive project by planting 57 plants along the open guard-railed embankment and stabilizing the new plantings with erosion control mulch (ECM). Affectionately referred to as the “guard rail garden,” by the end of the summer of 2019, a once eroding bank was covered with common juniper, service and snowberry shrubs, sweet fern, fragrant sumac along with wildflowers including morning glories and ornamental grasses. Meadow Lane on the Serpentine Stream in Smithfield was perhaps the largest project in 2019. Significant areas of this private road were repaired. Rick Labbe donated heavy equipment and was the contractor on this project. The road itself was crowned and resurfaced and multiple ditches and culverts were repaired or added. The property owners on that road along with the East Pond Association and the NPA contributed thousands of dollars in matching grant funds to mitigate some of the erosion and run-off issues on Meadow Lane. Last but not least, the town of Smithfield was able to riprap the last 75 feet of the embankment on North Shore Drive.

The last two years yielded remarkable results thanks to the participation of the Maine DOT, town of Smithfield, and the Seven Lakes Alliance YCC. Above and beyond those accomplishments, dozens of property owners on the shores of North and Little ponds also played an important part in helping to control erosion. Over four dozen BMPs were installed on private properties either by YCC, landscaping contractors or by the owners themselves including rain gardens, buffer plants, ECM, riprap, dripline edges, infiltration steps and much more. With a little help from the NPA through their Watershed Financial Award program, thousands of dollars were contributed by these lakeside landowners to help protect the water quality of our pond.

Great news! The NPA has been awarded a second DEP Grant of $118,758 as part of our Phase II North Pond Watershed Protection Project to be implemented in 2020 and 2021. The NPA Watershed Steering Committee along with our Project Manager, Charlie Baeder will be meeting this winter and spring to plan erosion control projects throughout the North Pond Watershed. This second grant (as well as the first) was made possible in part because the NPA hired Jennifer Jespersen from Ecological Instincts to write the grant proposal to the DEP.

Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. The funding is administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in partnership with the EPA.

Camp Bomazeen to break out new logo for 75th season

Eagle Scout Dalton Curtis (left), of Skowhegan Troop 485, and Second Class Scout Zachary LeHay (right), of Sidney Troop 401, drew the two new patches. (photo source: Camp Bomazeen)

New patch design by Eagle Scout Dalton Curtis.

Camp Bomazeen this summer will have special patches designed by local Scouts to help commemorate its 75th season. Eagle Scout Dalton Curtis, of Skowhegan Troop #485, and Second Class Scout Zachary LeHay, of Sidney Troop #401, drew the two patch designs which will be used this summer at Camp Bomazeen. The Scouts will each receive a $75 campership to Camp Bomazeen from the Bomazeen Old Timers but Curtis may not need it as he has applied to be a part of the 75th anniversary staff.

In 1945, Waterville Scout Richard Chamberlain named Camp Bomazeen after the brave leader of the local Norridgewock Abenaki tribe.

For the 75th anniversary, Camp Bomazeen opened up the patch design to a Scout and had two top selections. Dalton’s design will be used for the 75th commemorative merchandise. The second design, rendered by Zachary will be used for the patch Scouts receive for attending camp this summer. Christopher Bernier, who runs the Bushcraft area at Camp Bomazeen, provided the finished renderings based on the two designs that will be used for production.

New patch designed by Scout Zachary LeHay.

McKenney tapped as 75th anniversary season Bomazeen camp director

Julie McKenney, Camp Bomazeen director

Camp Bomazeen, home of Scout camping in central Maine for the past 75 years, will be led by Julie McKenney this summer following an announcement by Pine Tree Council in December.

McKenney, who lives in Belgrade five minutes from Camp Bomazeen, has served the camp in various capacities over the past seven seasons including as resident camp Shooting Sports Director, resident camp Program Director, and Program and then Camp Director for Cub Scouting programs such as Day Camp and Fun Pack Weekends.

The decision was made shortly before Christmas. Felicia Cates, of Mount Vernon, professional staff adviser to Camp Bomazeen, made the announcement. “Julie is full of energy and excitement with the passion, experience and knowledge to deliver a safe and exciting Scouting program at Bomazeen in 2020,” Cates said.

She works for RSU #18 at the James H Bean School, in Sidney, as an Ed-Tech 2 in the Learning Lab. “I’ve been with this school for three years now. Before I was at Williams Elementary for four years in the same role.”

“I wanted to be the director to continue the amazing traditions at our camp for wonderful volunteers and for our adventurous campers so they will have a place to continue their Scouting journey. I have built some great relationships with these Scouts and Scouters and love to see them grow.”

She has a deep wealth of Scouting and outdoor experience. “As a kid I did a lot of camping with my family back in Wyoming and so I learned a lot of great skills that I enjoy teaching to others,” McKenney said. “My stepfather was a park ranger for the State of Maine for many years and his love of camping rekindled my interest as a teenager and then when my first son came along I thought ‘here we go, we have got to go camping.’”

When her eldest son, Max, joined Cub Scouting, Julie joined with him. “I was a transitional Wolf Den Leader with Pack #654 when the leader was deployed in 2007. Then Cubmaster for Pack #453 in 2010.” When her son moved to Boy Scouts, Julie found opportunities to help there as well. She was an assistant Scoutmaster for Troop #453 and is currently the committee chairman for Pack #454 and Webelos Den Leader for Pack #1776 which is the all-girl Cub Scout Pack, in Sidney, where her daughter Elisha is a Webelos Scout.

McKenney has been successful both in her Scouting life and outside as well. She received the District Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver which are pinnacle awards in Scouting recognizing volunteer Scout leaders. She also was received the Spirit of America Award in 2014 for her community efforts, in Belgrade.

Now that she has been hired, McKinney will hire senior staff such as a program director, area directors, a cook, health officer and then junior staff. Next McKenney and several other members of camp staff will attend a week-long training program to prepare them to safely and effectively operate a Scout camp in compliance with state and federal laws and in accordance with Scouting requirements.

McKenney’s enthusiasm for Camp Bomazeen is evident. “I think the kids who join Scouting – both boys and girls – and attend camp have more of a full experience of Scouting. I think it gives them a chance to practice their skills. It gives them a chance to meet new people and make you friends. We all grow a little when we’re not always with people we know and Camp Bomazeen helps Scouts to become more independent and make choices and live with the outcomes.”

Scouts’ Camp Bomazeen celebrates 75 years

Scout Camp Bomazeen staff in 1945. (contributed photo)

In 2020, Camp Bomazeen, the Scout camp on Great Pond, in Belgrade, will be celebrating its 75th Anniversary. In 1945, Camp Bomazeen opened to provide an adventure for Maine Scouts in an idyllic setting. Over the course of the past 75 years, thousands of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorers and Venturers have camped amongst the pines, learned new skills, made lifelong friendships, and challenged themselves.

As the Kennebec Valley District, Bomazeen Old Timers and Pine Tree Council prepare for the diamond anniversary, they are asking the public’s help in collecting photos, articles, letters, memorabilia, etc. “We want to tell the story of Bomazeen,” said Camp Historian Chuck Mahaleris of Augusta. “We want to boldly prepare for the next 75 years by first recognizing the efforts of those who came before us and laid the foundations for the camp we love.

Visionaries like Dr Frederick W. Johnson, of Colby College, Dr George Averill, of Waterville, William Hinman, of Skowhegan, J.R. Cianchette and William Springler, of Pittsfield, Henry Hall, of Madison, and Lewis J Rosenthal, of Waterville. Those were the Scouters who were part of the selection committee that founded Bomazeen in 1945.

The camp was named by 14-year old Waterville Scout Richard Chamberlain. Last summer, both boys and girls shot arrows at the Bomazeen archery range, made baskets at Bushcraft, learned to swim at the waterfront, and some even learned how to weld. I hope those great pioneers would be proud that the camp they started is still serving youth today.”

Those who have items to submit can contact Chuck at cmahaleris@gmail.com or by calling him at 400-9850. All items submitted will be scanned and returned. Donations also accepted for display during the anniversary season.

Unsung heroes: our amazing school librarians

Each school is staffed by dedicated professionals who give so much to the students

by Mandi Favreau

If you go into any school in RSU #18, it doesn’t take long to find the hub of the action. There are a few common telltale signs: the space is always welcoming, it’s full of books, and each one is staffed by dedicated professionals who give so much to our students. Our librarians and library assistants across the district do a wonderful job providing classroom support and bringing educational opportunities to everyone from our pre-k students to our community members. They are there for our students in so many ways, and we cannot say enough about all the good they do.

For the last four years, Kathryn Bailey has overseen the libraries at our elementary schools in Oakland, Belgrade, and Sidney. During that time Kate has been instrumental in creating reading spaces, developing opportunities for families to read together before and during school, and organizing and finding funding for numerous authors’ visits. “Kate works hard, at each school, to provide a functional and inviting library that supports school curriculum and recreational reading,” said Belgrade Community School Principal Gwen Bacon.

“She somehow finds the time to collaborate on projects and develop relationships with instructional coaches, building administrators, teaching staff and other district library staff.”  Kate works with a gifted team of library assistants across much of the district. In each location, they provide learning displays and activities, coordinate the student choice book awards and the scholastic book fairs, and support teaching curriculum.

Atwood Primary School is where the weekly Rise and Read program was first started by Kate Bailey and Amy Grenier. “All Atwood students and their families are invited into our library where they are warmly welcomed and they get to listen to a wonderful story to begin their day,” said Jennifer McGee, Atwood Principal. Recently, the Atwood library has also started hosting a monthly reading event with the Snow Pond Senior Center where senior volunteers come to read with the students.

At BCS, Rita Daniels is at the helm of day-to-day operations. This year, Rita’s focus has been on coordinating with teachers to encourage increased library time for students. Rita is also a dedicated staff member who is always coming up with new ways to improve morale and goes above and beyond to help anyone at BCS. “Rita is integral to our building and student success,” said BCS Guidance Counselor Jamie Wade. “With her positive mindset and team approach, she is a pleasure to work with each and every day!”

Lisa Dugal, the James H. Bean School library assistant, wears many hats. She works with the kindergartners during the daily intervention block, assists teachers by gathering books and videos to augment their units, and is always the first to volunteer if a recess or lunch duty needs covering. She even makes sure students’ birthdays are special through the “Birthday Book Club.” “She goes above and beyond with everything that she does,” said Principal Erica St.Peter. “It is impossible to capture all of the little things that Lisa does on a daily basis to ignite the love of reading in our students at Bean.”

The Williams Elementary School library is run by Rose Smith. Smith and Bailey facilitate book talks during W.I.N (What I Need) time to provide practice in active listening, processing, and comprehension. They do so much to get students excited about new books that come in. “Our librarians offer read-ins to our students and teachers which incorporate read-alouds, book trailers, and independent reading,” said WES Principal Melanie Smith. Students even get to wear their pajamas at read-ins to give them that cozy and festive feel.

Sonja Boudreau, the librarian “par excellence” at both China schools, does so much to instill the love of the written word in her students. “Last year, author Lynn Plourde read her books and conducted writing workshops with our students,” said China Primary School Principal Darlene Pietz. “What a great experience for our children!”

Mrs. Boudreau also facilitates several structured study halls, oversees reading interventions, and teaches a library skills class to all the fifth-grade students. “When students arrive at middle school for the first time, they welcome the familiar friendly face of Mrs. Boudreau, who has already instilled the love of books in so many of them at the primary school,” said China Middle School Assistant Principal Meghan Murphy. “Her enthusiasm for books and learning is truly contagious to all that enter her library.”

“Libraries are the cornerstones of our schools,” adds Messalonskee Middle School Principal Mark Hatch. He describes the MMS librarians, Rebecca Cobban and Denise Rivard, as “masters of information” and a great resource and support for MMS students. They are dedicated to helping teachers find the right information to tackle any topic and teaching students to recognize bias and false information so they can get to the true facts. He adds that librarians can be “the key holders to the love of reading” by finding the right books to spark students’ interest. “For all these reasons and more our librarians should be the ‘Most Sung Heroes’ of our schools.”

The Messalonskee High School library has long been the domain of Sylvia Jadczak and Kiri Guyaz. The two women create a warm and welcoming atmosphere that many students seek out. The space is set up to make it possible for group work, club meetings, class lessons, and independent reading or study to happen comfortably all at the same time. Anyone can request a book, whether for reading or pleasure, and Jadczak will find a way to get it. She often takes extra time to write grants to supplement the book budget for this very purpose. The library also hosts various education opportunities during lunch, including basic healthy cooking lessons, the ever-popular lunchtime music series, and guest speakers on any topic imaginable.

The latest addition to these activities is the return of Lunchtime Forums where students learn how to discuss tough topics in a diplomatic way. “Sylvia is an advocate for all our students and will go the extra mile to help a student in need,” said Paula Callan, MHS Principal. “Kiri has worked with students outside of the library through her photography club. Both ladies play an integral role in our school.”

There is absolutely no way to fully capture the scope of what these amazing people do in our district. From daily operations to taking the time to connect to a student in need or working to instill a love of reading in all our students, our librarians are true educational heroes and we are grateful for them.