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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)

Raingutter Regatta

Troop #603 Scouts Gibs Schefter and Jacob Blais are shown coordinating the races. Parents interested in Scouting should check out the Pine Tree Council website. (contributed photo)

The American Legion Post #205 hosted a Raingutter Regatta for Pack #603 as they opened their doors for a new school year. Over 30 families participated, and the kids built, raced, and took home their boats.

Local scouting leaders receive prestigious district awards

Luanne Chesley, Advancement and Recognition chairman, left, presented the District Award of Merit to Russell Cahn. (contributed photo)

by Chuck Mahaleris

Russell Cahn, of Augusta, received the highest award a local Scouting District can bestow upon a volunteer on Saturday, September 25, when he was presented the District Award of Merit during the annual District Scouters’ Recognition Dinner held at Camp Bomazeen.

Cahn currently serves as Scoutmaster of Troop #631 at St. Augustine church but his Scouting career began when he joined Cub Scouts as a leader in New York Pack #349 where he served as Den Leader for Tigers, Wolf, Bear and Webelos dens. He was also Little League Coach from 2009-2014, in Forest Hills, New York. When the family moved to Maine, he and his family quickly got involved in Augusta’s Cub Scout Pack serving as Assistant Cubmaster and Den Leader.

When his son Tyler was old enough to cross over, Russel joined Troop #631, in Augusta, as an Assistant Scoutmaster and became Scoutmaster in 2020. Russell also served as the Cub Scout Rangemaster for Kennebec Valley District and served as Rangemaster for Pine Tree Council since 2017. Cahn teaches several merit badges and was a member of various Merit Badge Colleges. He also was a member of the 2017 National Jamboree Staff and the 2019 World Jamboree contingent.

Julie McKenney, Cub Day Camp Director at Camp Bomazeen and Kennebec Valley District Activities chairman, praised Cahn. “Russell’s knowledge from his previous unit in New York helped shift the way the Kennebec Valley District holds their Pine Wood Derbies. His guidance has molded the derbies into a far more enjoyable format for our Scouting families.” Cahn’s wife Tracy is a member and the chairman of the Troop Committee and their son Tyler is working on his Eagle Scout project. Both were present when the award was presented to him by District Advancement & Recognition Chairman Luanne Chesley, of Vassalboro. Cahn said, “Scouting allows me to share knowledge about the outdoors and the values of Scouting that they otherwise would not receive. Scouting gives them outstanding experiences that will help them develop into leaders.”

Heidi O’Donnell

Also receiving the District Award of Merit was Heidi O’Donnell, who volunteers in Scouting with Camden Troop #200. She has been involved with both Girl Scouts and Scouting since her son Matthew was a Tiger Cub Scout in 2011 and her daughter Taylor first joined Girl Scouts. Both joined her at Camp Bomazeen to receive the award.

Matthew is currently working towards his Eagle Scout rank and Taylor has submitted her Gold Project award. Heidi has been involved at various levels of both programs and has also served on Camp Bomazeen staff and worked at several Merit Badge colleges. Like Cahn, she was a member of the 2017 National Jamboree staff and also attended the 2019 World Jamboree.

O’Donnell was co-trek leader for Philmont in 2019. Outside of Scouting, Heidi has been involved with the YMCA and was awarded its Volunteer of the Year in 2016. Heidi said, “I love being part of the scouting program – both Scouts BSA and Girl Scouts. It is my hope that my involvement in scouting has made a positive impact on many. I know it has had a significant effect on myself and my two children and I am grateful that they were both there to celebrate with me. I look forward to many more years in scouting and encourage others to consider helping to make scouting strong in their communities as it is fulfilling work on so many levels.”

John Wood, a long-time Scouting volunteer from Hope said, “Scouting has been this young lady’s life. She is well deserving of this award.”

District Chairman Joe Shelton, of China, said, “We are very blessed to have so many outstanding volunteer Scouting leaders in Kennebec Valley. They make this program happy and it is only fitting that we take the opportunity to recognize those who have given so much.”

Skowhegan scouts hold annual crossover ceremony

Owen Perri, left, and Hayden Rowell recently joined Cub Scout Pack #485, in Skowhegan, and are both working on their Lions Badge this year.

by Chuck Mahaleris

Skowhegan Cubs Scouts held their annual cross over ceremony on July 2 and Arrow of Light recipient John “LJ” Easler completed all requirements in order to leave Cub Scout Pack #485 and start his new adventures in Scout Troop #485.

The program was held at “Chicken Camp” on River Road and included dinner (all families brought things to share), campfire, awards, and families could spend the night if they chose. There was an Arrow of Light Ceremony for Webelos Scouts and a Bobcat Light ceremony.

John “LJ” Easler crosses the Arrow of Light bridge leaving Cub Scouting and entering the Skowhegan Scout Troop. (photo courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

Kaleb Simonds and Owen Hatfield crossed to the Tiger Cub program from the Lions Program. Jameson McGinnis left the Tigers and began his journey to Wolf. Logan Simonds started his Bear program and Weston Booker crossed the bridge from Webelos to the Arrow of Light level program. Pack #485 welcomed two new Cub Scouts: Owen Perri and Hayden Rowell who earned their Lions Honor. The Scouting program follows the school calendar so they will be working all year on these new levels of program.

Pack #485 Cub Master Shanna Brown said, “It was an amazing night. We had a BBQ, ball games, the campfire and Scouts made and enjoyed s’mores. No one stayed the night, it was chilly and many of the families have younger siblings.” The pack is planning another similar family outdoor event at the end of summer as a way to kick off the new Scouting year.

Cub Scouts Kaleb Simonds, Hayden Rowell, Owen Hatfield, Owen Perri and Jameson McGinnis with leader Shawn Hayden. (photo courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

Scouts New Boy Scout LJ Easler. (photo courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

Troop #417 member earns Eagle Scout status

Eagle Scout Wyatt Henry DeGrasse, of Troop #417, in Waterville (contributed photo)

Eagle Scout Wyatt Henry DeGrasse, of Troop #417, in Waterville, Kennebec Valley District, received the great honor of Eagle Scout on June 15 at a ceremony attended by former Maine Governor Paul LePage, who had been a Cub Scout himself, in Waterville, years earlier. The ceremony was held at the Waterville Church of Latter Day Saints.

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)

Scout honors deceased veterans with project over several seasons

Eagle Scout Gary Lawyerson congratulates his grandson Eagle Scout Gabriel Lawyerson after pinning the Eagle Scout medal he received in 1964. (contributed photo)

Receives Eagle Scout rank on Memorial Day weekend

by Chuck Mahaleris

Jefferson Troop #216 Scoutmaster Valerie Drever presents a special hand-made plaque to Gabe. (contributed photo)

Gabriel Daniel Lawyerson, of Troop #216, received his Eagle Scout rank during an outdoor ceremony at Damariscotta Lake State Park, in Jefferson. His grandfather, Gary Lawyerson, earned Scouting’s highest rank in 1964 and proudly pinned his medal on his grandson. Gabe is going to Fort Sill Oklahoma July 7, 2021 for his basic training in the U.S. Army.

His grandfather served in the Marine Corps for 27 years and three years in the Army. Linda, his grandmother, was in the Marines 7-1/2 months (then daughter Amy came along). There are others who served in Gabe’s family. Gary, Gabe’s father, served in the Army four years, Gabe’s other grandfather Leo Peters served in Paratroopers Army 101st Airborne during the Korean War, among many others, of course. His respect and appreciation for those who served in the military runs deep.

The Eagle Scout ceremony was held Friday evening of Memorial Day weekend which is appropriate as Gabe’s Eagle Scout Service Project consisted of taking photographs of 1,200 veteran grave stones at the Maine Veterans Cemetery, in Augusta, on Civic Center Drive. The photos were given to the Bureau of Maine Veteran Services which plans to provide a website family and friends can visit loved ones virtually when they can’t visit in person. His Scoutmaster, Valerie Drever, said, “Congratulations Gabe, you have worked very hard to achieve this honor. Baden Powell would have been proud!”

Gabe’s grandmother Linda Lawyerson assisted him with his project and spoke during the ceremony. “The project was a long process spent over several seasons. I watched him persevere during winter months and overcome all obstacles. I saw him go from being a young man into an adult.”

Gabriel Daniel Lawyerson, of Troop #216. (contributed photo)

Augusta Cub Scouts learn about police forensics

Maine State Police Detective Hugh Landry was the guest at Augusta Cub Scout Pack #684, and showed the Cub Scouts how to get fingerprinted and spoke with them about forensics. (photos courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

Maine State Police Detective Hugh Landry and Augusta Cub Scout Pack #684. (photos courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

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.

Misha Littlefield earns Eagle Scout status

Newly initiated Eagle Scout Misha Littlefield. (Photo by Ron Emery)

Photos and text by Ron Emery, Assistant Scoutmaster

On Saturday, June 29, Troop #479 honored an Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor held for China resident Misha Littlefield, at the China Baptist Church. Family, friends and Scouts attended the ceremony marking the advancement of this young man to the highest rank in Boy Scouts.

Misha joins a group of Eagle Scouts who have completed community service projects with the help of fellow Scouts and other volunteers. Each Eagle candidate must plan and supervise an Eagle service project to demonstrate his capacity and willingness to exert his leadership ability in activities that are constructive and worthwhile in his community.

Misha’s project benefited the community by building shelves at the China Food Pantry for the monthly delivery of USDA Federal goods. They did not have room to store the monthly delivery in a convenient location to stock food boxes. This Eagle Service project led by Misha Littlefield was greatly needed, according to Ann Austin, at the China Food Pantry.

Misha recognized all those who helped him to reach the Eagle Rank. Misha is the son of Rodney and Julie, of China, and is working at Lowe’s, in Augusta, and running his own business while working toward becoming an EMT.