The message couldn’t be written more clearly: Unless more youngsters begin following the tracks of sportsmen, Maine’s long and storied trails of traditional outdoors recreations will soon be grown-up and gone-by. For the most part, kids nowadays simply don’t have the hunting and fishing opportunities that were rites of passage to generations of Mainers. However, given the chance to enjoy and appreciate those sports and the attendant study of nature and wildlife, kids usually take to them like bears to bee trees.
Accordingly – and with thanks to a Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund grant of $5,350 – the University of Maine at Machias is now offering a Winter Conservation Camp at its Greenland Point Center in Princeton. The camp is for people who have blown out the candles on 12-14 birthday cakes.
Tuition fee is $135 per camper, with $60 of the fee being provided by the Outdoor Heritage Fund grant. Applicants or their sponsors, therefore, will be responsible for the balance of $75.
Word from Dick Scribner, a UMM faculty member and “head guide” of the GPC, is that the Winter Conservation Camp will offer weekend sessions on Jan. 23-25, Feb. 6-8, Feb. 20-22, March 6-8. During each session, the campfire will burn from 4 p.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The GPC’s program director, Bruce Hodgdon, a registered Maine guide and UMM alumnus, has organized an intensive and educational training program for the camp’s participants. Included are cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, winter ecology, cold-weather survival, igloo and other snow-shelter construction, snowshoeing, ice fishing, appropriate winter clothing, and, importantly, a safety course titled, “Frozen Waterways: Playgrounds or Death Traps.”
Campers who complete the program will receive certificates issued by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. All activities will be conducted by registered Maine guides and certified snowmobile safety instructors.
The Greenland Point Center is located on a 64-acre peninsula that juts into Long Lake in Princeton. The main lodge houses a large dining room and modern kitchen. A library and a recreation room are located on the lower level. Completing the accommodations are 11 rustic and comfortable log cabins for campers and counselors. Allowing that the center has a mile of shore frontage and being that Long Lake is part of the St. Croix River waterway, it’s obvious that the campsite is Maine from stem to stern.
It’s no secret that Greenland Point Center has become a popular summer camp for youngsters interested in outdoors recreation and wildlife conservation. Last year, for example, 82 young outdoors addicts completed the center’s Outdoor School program; 212 left tracks in the Maine Conservation Camp program, with 210 of them receiving Boating Safety Course and Hunter Safety Course certificates. Other courses offered in the conservation camp were: fly casting, fly tying, forestry, nature studies, bow hunting, and trapping.
Other GPC summer programs are: Wet ‘n Wild, a conservation-outdoor recreation course for children 8-12, and Maine Waterway Adventures, an advanced conservation camp for 13- to 17-year-old “sports” who’d rather spend their time outdoors than surfing the Internet.
Additionally, the center conducted a successful Becoming an Outdoor Woman program in the fall. You may recall that the BOW program, supported by the DIFW, drew direct fire from an anti-hunting group a year or so ago. The group demanded that DIFW cease all such activity. The department, of course, told the group it had better check its compass.
In these times of cultural and societal change, the reasons most kids nowadays have no exposure to hunting, fishing, trapping, and the outdoors in general are varied. It’s a good bet, however, that single-parent homes are foremost among them. Obviously, programs such as UMM’s Greenland Point Center conservation camps are important to starting youngsters on Maine’s long and storied trails of traditional outdoors recreations.
For further information about Greenland Point Center, phone: 255-1291.
Keeping a tight line on the Outdoor Heritage Fund, a grant has been approved for establishing an instructor’s certification course essential to the DIFW’s “Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs” program. The first course will be held Feb. 28 in Augusta. Additional courses are scheduled for the Bangor, Portland, Greenville and Presque Isle areas. For further information contact Charlie Mann at DIFW either by phone: 287-8069; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re looking for a sure cure for cabin fever, try tying flies. Although it’s called an art, tying flies doesn’t require unusual talent. To the contrary, it’s a process easily learned and currently there are two classes hereabouts in which expert instructors are teaching all the tricks of the trade.
Take your pick: On the heels of his well-attended classes of November and December, Charlie Shoppe of Franklin is returning to the Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery’s Atlantic Salmon Museum off Route 1 in East Orland, where he will conduct workshops on tying salmon flies. The noon-3 p.m. sessions are scheduled for Jan. 25, Feb. 8, and Feb. 15. Registration is not required, no fee is charged. Bring along a chair and some basic fly-tying equipment if you have it and watch a master at work. For more information, call Charlie Shoppe, 565-3350; Craig Brook Hatchery, 469-2803.
Over Eddington Bend way – at the intersection of Routes 9 and 178, to be specific – the Eddington Salmon Club’s fly-tying classes for beginners also are free of charge. Hooks will be clamped into vises from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday from now until April 1, opening day of Atlantic salmon fishing this year. Regarding the expertise of the Eddington Club’s fly-tying instructors, I’ll say, without exaggeration, they can tie whip finishes as quickly as you can tie your shoes.
Keep smiling. Ol’ Sol is strolling higher and longer each day.
Tom Hennessey’s column can be accessed on the BDN internet page at: www.bangornews.com.