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.