June 30 – July 6, 2023Vol. 25, No. 3

School’s Out, And So Are the Kids!

New staff at Ghostlight Theater Camp on East Pond.

by Pete Kallin

Last week was the first week of summer vacation for most schools in the area, and families with kids are beginning to show up everywhere. Almost all of the summer camps and sporting camps are back to an almost normal schedule.

It is good to see our friends from away returning. These camps are not only very important to the local economy but often bring visitors from all over the country who learn the joys of living near a lake in Maine.

Many later come back to settle here in their retirement. There are many former Camp Kennebec alumni around Salmon Lake, Pine Island and Runoia alumni around Great Pound, Manitou and Matoaka alumna around East Pond, and Snow Pond Center for the Arts alumni everywhere. This is also true of former visitors to Bear Springs, Alden Camps. Whisperwood, Castle Island, Wheeler Camps, and other family camps in the watershed. Residents of Taconnet have been playing tennis with the same “kids” for decades.

Jake, Miles, and Charlotte Benner.

I recently went to French Mountain and discovered the parking lot completely full of cars with out-of-state plates. While there I met several groups of young people who were incoming counselors at various camps, who had heard about the trail from the returning counselors and were checking it out before their campers arrived in the next few days. I managed to get a group shot of the new staff for Camp Manitou’s Ghostlight Theater Camp.

When I finished my hike, I headed to the Roundtop trailhead to do some scouting for early summer mushrooms. There I met Jake, Miles (6), and Charlotte (7) Benner from Skowhegan, who had just finished hiking the Roundtop Loop and spur trail. The 4.2-mile hike was a long trek for the youngsters, whom Jake described as “trail warriors.” Jake works from home and likes to get the kids outside frequently.

The trout fishing has been good for the past month but is beginning to slow down as the water warms. Once the surface water temperature gets above 70°, the trout tend to stay below the surface mixed layer in the cooler water below the thermocline, currently about 30 feet down. I have still been catching some nice rainbows trolling streamer flies or small spoons just off the bottom in areas 20 to 25 feet deep. Also check out the nice northern pike that Gary Heath and his twin, 12-year-old sons, Jackson and Landen, and their friend Brayden caught while fishing on Messalonskee Lake with my friend, Mike Guarino of Wilderness Guide Service. Hard to tell who’s happier, Dad or the kids? The Heath Family is from New Jersey but has a summer camp on Flying Pond.

Gary Heath with Brayden, Jackson, and Landen, with nice Northern Pike.

This area offers some great outdoor recreation, whether you like to hike, bike, birdwatch, fish, sail, or paddle a canoe or kayak. Pick up a map of the local trails at Day’s Store or from the 7LA at the Maine Lakes Resource Center. The 7 Lakes Alliance is sponsoring many events that may be of interest. Upcoming programs including family hikes and Tuesday afternoon nature presentations from Chewonki, are described elsewhere in this paper. Check the Facebook or website for details. Also, keep an eye on the sign in front of the building as events are being added all the time, and get on their email notification list for updates.

I encourage everyone to take advantage of the wealth of recreational opportunities this area offers. Do like they used to in “the good old days” and take a kid fishing, or on a hike, or paddling in a canoe. It’s how memories are made. Or take a parent, so they can become a kid again.

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