In April of 2008, the Maine Conservation School merged with the Maine 4-H Foundation and University of Maine Cooperative Extension to become the University of Maine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond. The mission of the University of Maine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond is to educate and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds toward social, economic, and environmental sustainability and conservation through affordable, experiential learning.

The center models leadership and life skills development, community collaboration, self-reliance, wellness, and a sense of stewardship for our natural world. This mission supports the broader mission of the UMaine Extension 4-H Youth Development Program, “to help Maine people improve their lives through education that uses research-based knowledge focused on issues, needs and aspirations.”

Bryant Pond’s Guiding Principle is to instill in every individual an understanding of their relationship and interdependence with our natural resources, and our local communities, and to create vested civic involvement committed to sustainable lives and conservation.

Since 1956, the Bryant Pond Learning Center has worked with thousands of students, teachers and groups helping them explore and investigate our natural world. Our summer camp and Lakeside Classroom school programs offer a unique blend of inspired fun, practical outdoor skills, hands on experiential science, and teambuilding/leadership activities which help form the foundations for a lifelong appreciation of the outdoors.

The weekly routine for most summer camp programs includes path-specific outdoor skills development, cooling swims, and canoeing at our beautiful waterfront, hiking to the top of Mt. Christopher, team-building on our ropes course, and learning basic survival and outdoor safety skills. Everyone looks forward to Thursday night campfire, a fun-filled evening of skits, songs, stories and laughs. Unless otherwise noted, programs are one-week (Sunday through Friday). With a few exceptions, all campers are welcome to enter any age appropriate program without prior experience.

In January of 2010, UMaine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond helped establish the Environmental Living and Learning for Maine Students Project. The long-term goal of ELLMS is to make residential environmental education accessible to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds in Maine by establishing a financial aid fund for public upper-elementary and middle schools to attend programs at one of the four ELLMS partner sites.


The mission of the ELLMS Project is to encourage students to develop a lifelong commitment to environmental sustainability and stewardship, outdoor exercise and recreation, good nutrition, community-building, and civic engagement through positive, nature-based activities, lessons, and challenges. Learning outdoors bridges gaps between students, enlivens learning, fosters a sense of group unity, and creates an atmosphere in which trust and exploration can flourish. ELLMS participants will gain a deeper understanding of the natural world and their place within it; higher self-esteem; greater enthusiasm for learning; and an understanding of the “green economy.”

The facility is located off Route 26 in western Maine, near the town of Bethel. For more information, visit

Healthy foods study conducted in Paris 4-H youth group

by Christopher Crosby, Staff Writer

PARIS — While mulling over ways to get children enrolled in the 4-H Youth Development Group to eat more healthful food, Katy Duval stumbled across something unique: free money.

There was no catch to the offer. Duval, of Poland, who leads 10 children ages 5 to 17 in an after-school program teaching nutrition and healthful lifestyles, was chosen as one of 16 after-school community programs in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to participate in the “Snack It Up” study looking at how to get children to eat healthier snacks.


Once a week over the spring, Duval redeemed $5 worth of produce at a Hannaford supermarket to make nutritional treats and to learn about how foods affected children’s health. For many, it was their first experience with some of the foods.

Hummus was a standout favorite.

“Kids were definitely on board with the snacks. I was surprised by their reactions,” Duval said. “Peaches seemed to the popular choice.”

Researchers contend that unhealthful snacks have contributed to the rise in childhood obesity rates in the U.S., which, depending on the age group, have more than doubled in the past three decades.

Heather Angstrom and Alyssa Koomas said the program is one of four initiatives at Tufts’ ChildObesity180 program looking at stemming the rise in childhood obesity rates.

The program, which grew out of doctoral research cataloguing the concerns that children did not have access to affordable-but-healthful snacks, targets a specific period when snack consumption is believed to be prevalent: between the time children leave school and return home.


Angstrom said early indications suggest that children who eat with their peers are slightly more likely to eat something new than those who eat on their own. Given the proper incentives, they hope those new foods will be something other than chips and candy.

Early indications suggest that it might: Koomas noted a slight increase in the tendency of people in the study to eat fruit and vegetables than those outside it.

“I don’t think pineapple is the first thought when people think of a snack, but we would like it to be,” she said.

According to Angstrom, options for continuing the program are being explored; one limitation of the study was its size, which they hope to expand.

“It’s hard to say what dollar amount makes the difference in people’s buying choices,” she said.

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