SOLON — The drizzle stopped and skies cleared just in time as more than 150 paddlers set out from Evergreens Campground for a dry, cool, seven-mile kayak trip down the Kennebec to North Anson.

They were paddling for a purpose, with a goal to raise $68,000 for the 21st annual Bath Savings Institution Paddle for Pine Tree Camp.

One of those paddlers was Sen. Nate Libby of Lewiston.

“Paddling is a change to our very busy lives,” he said. “It’s a chance to slow down, be reflective and do something for a good cause.”

For the third year, Libby’s friends and family paddled together as Team Jude. His 8-year-old son, Jude, attended Pine Tree Camp for the first time last summer.

“We actually paddled the year before Jude attended camp,” Libby said. “We heard about Pine Tree Camp’s outstanding program and wanted to support it.” 

After their first paddle, they toured the camp with Jude.

All proceeds directly support the campership fund, and are a critical part of the camp’s open door tuition policy. Since 1945, Pine Tree Camp has welcomed all who could benefit, regardless of their ability to pay. Ninety-nine percent of campers cannot afford to pay the tuition and the paddle is a major fundraiser to ensure they can attend.

The paddle was supported by the Maine Warden Service and a team of volunteers — from registration and logistics to water safety to the post-paddle celebratory barbecue.

Fifteen-year-old Pine Tree camper Tristan Bouchard of Farmington was one of those volunteers. He was there early, helping direct traffic. Then he and his family hit the river for the paddle.

“He loves being part of the volunteer crew,” said his mother, Amy. “If somebody has on an orange vest and a radio, that’s what he wants to do.” 

Tristan started coming to Pine Tree Camp when he was in elementary school and Tristan’s Terrific Team has been paddling ever since.

“He feels that by raising money at the paddle to help other kids attend camp, he will always be able to meet new friends and see old friends when he’s there,” his mother said.

Paddlers will continue to turn in pledges and donors can support the paddle until Saturday, July 1.

FMI: www.firstgiving.com/pts/paddle-for-pine-tree-camp-2017.

Tristan Bouchard, center, was a volunteer for the paddle and also joined the event with his father, Scott Bouchard, left, and his mother, Amy Bouchard.


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