OPINIONS: Plea to keep Bomazeen a scouting camp

Chris “Montawagon“ Bernier at his lodge.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY

by Chris Bernier

My name is Chris “Montawagon“ Bernier. I am a long time scouter from Winslow here in Pine Tree Council. I joined scouting in 1983. I received my Eagle Scout in 1994. Without scouting my life would have turned out drastically different. I was lucky to have both of my parents in our home growing up, however, my father worked a million hours a week it seemed. My two brothers and I got to see him often but not nearly as much as I wished growing up. I would say more than half of my male influences growing up came from scouting leaders. The other half my father.

My fondest memories in scouting were from summer camp. For me that was Camp Bomazeen. For some of the other youth in my troop it was a combination of Bomazeen and Camp Hinds. I was lucky enough to have attended Camp Hinds in 1989 for a week. I got to see both camps and participate in programs at both camps, however, my heart will always lay at Camp Bomazeen.

Many other youth, have made great memories at Camp Gustin, or Camp Nutter. Many at Camp Hinds. Pine Tree council is lucky enough for the moment to have four amazing non-replaceable assets. This is in danger of changing.

The council has incurred some debts and the national Scouts BSA lawsuits are requiring councils to fork over costs of damages. Yet another debt to our council. It is the responsibility of our council board to figure out how to pay those debts. Unfortunately, the executive board feels selling property (even if protected as a trust) is an option to pay those debts. I, as a Scout of 38 years and an adult leader/volunteer of 27 years feels that Pine Tree Council is about to jump off the cliff by the sale of Bomazeen, with Nutter and Gustin to follow.

That is why I am contacting you today. I would like to ask everyone in the district. Every Pack, Troop, and Crew member who wants to see this stay as a camp for Scouts in perpetuity, to write a personal letter stating why you think it is a bad idea to sell Camp Bomazeen, specifically. I would like to see leaders as well as youth include letters. I would ask you to personally sign it. Then either bring it to the roundtable where I will collect them and make sure they are used in a productive way to try to preserve our camps. If you cannot make it out to the roundtable, please mail them to me or you can scan them on your computer and mail them to me via email where I will print them out.

However, a signature is still strongly advised. I would like to put a deadline of getting these letters in my hand by December 15. At that time, I will take all the letters and make sure they get down to Pine Tree Council. Addressed to every board member and council employee. Think of this as a petition but with more bite as you are not just signing your name, you are explaining why you are signing your name. I would urge you to contact me about how you feel about this via email at circleofone555@hotmai.com.

I would ask that you contact your chartering organizational representatives. Encourage them to become active in what council does. Every Troop’s chartering organizational representative has the obligation to vote on who Pine Tree Councils board members are annually. The council hosts a January meeting with a list of board members. If a majority “Yes” vote is passed those people are that year’s board for council. If a majority “No” vote occurs council must wipe the slate clean and start over. I encourage a “No” vote. Our council is in desperate need of a new board of directors. Most people are not aware of this. It is crucial, even vital, now more than ever, that we let council know that selling irreplaceable property potentially protected in trust is not a good use of resources. A better use of their time should be focusing on membership, “quality” program at all four camps and capital campaigns. If done properly this council could easily recover from its debts. Something the current board clearly is not focused on.

You may or may not be aware of it but the attorney general’s office along with the Bomazeen Oldtimers Association 501(c)(3) is suing Pine Tree Council in an effort to protect the property. The deed of Doctor Averill, who gave the camp for use to central Maine scouts, states that the trustees of Camp Bomazeen govern it. If for any reason a Camp Bomazeen Trustee member leaves said board, the council, who has jurisdiction over Camp Bomazeen, “Shall appoint a successor from the vicinity of where the former Trustee resided.” The deed also states that the original Trustees of Bomazeen were all from the Central Maine, Waterville, Madison, Skowhegan area. The last time I heard there was a Camp Bomazeen board of trustees was more than 20 years ago. The council has failed in its duty to put in place successors.

The deed states “First: Said property is to be held by said Trustees for the use and benefit for members of the Boy Scouts of America, said premises to be at all times available for camping purposes to the troops and members of the Boy Scouts of America, and especially for the troops and members of the Boy Scouts of America in the central part of the State of Maine.” If the council were to sell, it is Pine Tree Council’s obligation that the money received be held in trust for Central Maine Scouting, not to pay debts for poor money management. Any sales of this trust are to be done to further the intention of the trust.

In recent years scouting has been on the decline. Covid struck and rapidly helped to disrupt scouting. The answer to debt is not selling stuff and hope membership rises. The answer to debt is increased membership and give as many opportunities to children within scouting, at as many places as possible. Without our well distributed camps, providing outstanding programs becomes that much more challenging. The current board of directors at Pine Tree Council has clearly lost its way. We the leaders of the packs, troops and crews on the ground sometimes need to remind them what they are voting on. This is one of those times as our packs, troops and crews are the larger bases of income to the council.

I want to thank you for your time and I hope you will consider sending before December 15.

Please, let’s band together as a council and help to protect these four great properties for every youth of scouting to enjoy for the next 100 years of scouting.

Send your letter to Preserve Camp Bomazeen Letter Drive, c/o Chris “Montawagon” Bernier, P.O. Box #2444, Waterville, ME 04903.

PHOTOS: Scouts at Camp Bomazeen

Tristan Morton, of Augusta, Pack #603, and his mother. (photos courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

Tyler Fisher, of Oakland Cub Scout Pack #454, spent time at the archery range getting ready in case zombies attack. (photos courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

Eric Handley, Scoutmaster of Troop #401, in Sidney, was the largest lawn gnome in the world and welcomed people at the registration table for Haunted Woods. (photos courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

Golf Fore Kids’ Sake raises over $48,000 for BBBS

First place gross, Bank of New Hampshire

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine’s 2021 Kennebec Valley Golf Fore Kids’ Sake, presented by Kennebec Savings Bank, raised $48,300 to benefit school and community-based mentoring services for children in Kennebec and Somerset counties. Twenty teams competed in the annual golf tournament, held September 3, at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club.

2021 Kennebec Valley Golf Fore Kids’ Sake Tournament Winners:

First Place Gross: Travis Frautten, Paul Collins, Matt Worthen and Sean Rankin (Bank of New Hampshire)

Second Place Gross: Scott MacCheyne, Todd Beacham, Mike Frautten and Mike Wilson (Great Falls Holdings)

First Place Net: Andy Dionne, Tim Borelli, John Smith and Jason Brown (MaineGeneral Health)

Second Place Net: Jake Coan, Ngoni Ditma, Randall Anderson and Lucas Worell (Cornerstone Insurance)

Contest Winners: Longest Drive (Men): David Chayer.

Longest Drive (Women):  Jessica Smart.

Closest to Pin (Men): Matt Loubier.

Closest to Pin (Women): Nicole Labbe.

Putting Contest: Bob Gatof.

Chipping Contest: Shad West.

Kennebec Valley Golf Fore Kids’ Sake is generously sponsored by: Kennebec Savings Bank (Presenting Sponsor); G&E Roofing, Cives Steel Company and Skowhegan Savings (Major Sponsors); Darlings, Central Maine Motors Auto Group, Sprague & Curtis, Lajoie Bros., New Hampshire Bank and Great Falls Holdings (Scoreboard Sponsors); SAPPI, InterMed and Mr. Bob Gatof (Lunch Sponsors)

First place net, MaineGeneral Health

Second place gross, Great Falls Holdings

Second place net, Cornerstone Insurance

Local scouts attend opening weekend at Camp Bomazeen

(contributed photo)

by Chuck Mahaleris

Camp Bomazeen Director Bruce Rueger had one message for the Scouts and leaders who attended camp on their opening weekend of program for the 2021 season, “Welcome Home! Camp Bomazeen is open for the summer and we welcome you back!”

“This is very exciting for us,” Rueger, of Waterville, said. “I’m not sure if the staff or the Scouts are more excited that Camp Bomazeen is open but I know I am really eager for a great summer.”

Scouts from China, Winthrop, Augusta, Jackman and Skowhegan were among those in attendance for opening weekend on July 10 & 11. “We had one Scout who came all the way from Connecticut specifically to take part in Bomazeen’s unique Bushcraft program,” he said. Chris Bernier and his staff dress in 1840 period costumes to teach Scouts how their ancestors and Native Americans lived, cooked, and made craft items such as baskets and lanterns.

Meanwhile, other Scouts earned traditional Scouting offerings such as crafts, the new Scout program, Rifle Shooting and Canoeing Merit Badges but also Merit Badges not normally offered at a Scout camp such as Electricity, Finge rprinting and Welding. “Our staff are the very best and worked hard to meet the rigid requirements for safety and knowledge of subject set by Scouting. We have gotten off to a great start and look forward to a great 2021 season.”

Brock Merrill, of Fairfield, enjoying some down time at Camp Bomazeen. (contributed photo)

The camp planned to celebrate its 75th anniversary last summer, but Covid-19 put a hold on the festivities for an entire year and the pandemic made planning for this summer nearly all but impossible. “We didn’t know for sure if we would be able to hold camp this summer until just a few weeks ago or what restrictions we would be operating under, but when you see the Scouts having fun and learning and enjoying camp, it makes everything worthwhile,” Rueger said. Emma Hodgdon, of Palmyra, is working on the Waterfront at Bomazeen this summer. “I love being outdoors and working at Camp,” Emma said. “I like helping younger Scouts learn new skills and have fun.”

Brock Merrill lives in Fairfield but is a member of the Oakland Scout Troop. “My favorite part of camp is swimming,” he said during the perfect July day. The camp is located on Great Pond and boasts a sandy beach unrivaled at many such camps. Connor Poirier, of Augusta Troop #631, agreed. He has been coming to Bomazeen since he was a Cub Scout and was very much looking forward to refreshing himself in the pond.

There is another Scout weekend on July 16-18 followed by Family Adventure Weekend on July 24 and 25, and Cub Scout Day Camp the week of July 26-30. Rueger pointed out that this year, non-Cub Scouts can attend Day Camp at Camp Bomazeen. To sign up or if you have questions, please call Pine Tree Council at 207-797-5252 or email Bruce at bfrueger@colby.edu.

Nick Choate (far side of canoe), and Cameron Rossignol, both of China Troop #479, practice a canoe rescue during Canoeing Merit Badge. (contributed photos)

Camp Bomazeen prepares for season with help from Scouts

The LaBonte family, of Oakland, made the work day a family event: Scott, Garrett, Ruby and Rebecca LaBonte. (contributed photo)

The weather was ideal at Camp Bomazeen on Saturday, May 15, for a great Beaver Day-camp work day. Everyone who attended will get a commemorative patch of a beaver wielding a chain saw. Scott Adams, of China, organized the event.

“The pandemic prevented us from opening last summer so we have two years worth of work to get done before camp opens for the season at the end of June,” Adams said. “We rely on people coming into camp and lending a hand. We are so grateful.”

Along with removing leaves and brush from fields, the health lodge was also cleaned. Thanks to those who helped: Willie and Parker LeHay, Scott, Garrett, Ruby and Rebecca LaBonte. Scott Vernier, Chuck Mahaleris, Scott Martin, Susan and Russ Shoberg, Steve Craig, and, of course, Scott Adams and Henry. Lunch was provided courtesy of the Bomazeen Old Timers.

Scouts help Scott Adams, of China, toss brush onto the trailer for removal and later burning. (contributed photo)

PHOTO: Four generations

Four generations posed for this photo recently. Center, mother Kassie Bisson, of Belgrade, holding daughter Brinley Bisson. Left, great-grandmother, Joan Hallee, of Waterville, and right, grandmother Angela Hallee, of Winslow. (contributed photo)

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.