SOLON – Kayakers paddled with a purpose down the Kennebec River on Saturday for the 22nd annual Bath Savings Institution Paddle for Pine Tree Camp.
About 200 paddlers joined the cause, raising money for Pine Tree Camp in Rome. Camp staff said they never turn away campers because of an inability to pay. Pine Tree Camp gives kids and adults with disabilities a chance to swim, hike, make new friends, and enjoy everything Maine has to offer in the summer.
One camper said he was excited to participate in a fundraiser for the camp he loves.
“I really like Pine Tree Camp,” said camper Tristan Bouchard. “We do a lot of great stuff there.”
Pine Tree Camp staff said the camp is barrier free. They said the Paddle for Pine Tree Camp was started decades ago by a camp kayak teacher.
“That experience really impacted him in a big way so he got some friends together and they paddled down the Kennebec,” said Erin Rice, the chief development officer for Pine Tree Society. “It was super grassroots at that point – I think it was only like 10 people.”
Since then, more and more people have come out for the seven mile kayak trip.
On Saturday, that included some familiar faces from our newsroom. The studio’s own Blake Lipton, Gina Marini, TJ Tremble, and Kayla Fish all put in some paddling.
“They’ve been doing this for more than 20 years now,” said Kayla Fish while paddling in her kayak. “And each year it gets better and better and it’s a great cause to support.”
One woman came out on her birthday to help every kid enjoy their summer vacation.
“I think it’s nice to be able to come out and do this,” said Amber Boynton, “raise a little bit of money and know that some families can send their kids to camp and it doesn’t cost them anything.”
Pine Tree Camp staff said paddlers have until July 1st to turn in money. But they anticipate raising $68,000 for the camp from this year’s paddle.