Category Archives: 2019

Motivated to build a vessel that is all about the pleasure of rowing

Scott Vaitones rowing his newly launched 13’ peapod, Jeuros Skitlas (Sea Glass)

Scott Vaitones rowing his newly launched 13’ peapod, Jeuros Skitlas (Sea Glass)

About four years ago, Teel Cove resident Scott Vaitones bought a set of plans for a 13’ peapod designed by Belfast boatbuilder Arch Davis and stuck them on a shelf. It was last winter, the first of being retired from his position as business manager at the St. George School, that he dug them out and started reading them through. On days he could stand the cold in his unheated workshop, he built the “stations” that would guide him as he shaped the hull. He then began putting the boat together in May and launched it this past August 18, christening it with a bottle of Shipyard Ale.

“I’ve always liked how pea pods look,” Vaitones says. “I’ve always known how nice they are to row and I love to row, so I figured I’d build a peapod for rowing, for exercise.”

Vaitones had previously built three or four skiffs, a couple of canoes and a 16’ “stitch-n-glue” center console from scratch. “I also hauled a 20’ runabout out of the St. George transfer station that had been in a severe fire, took it completely apart and rebuilt it as a 20’ center console. And then, of course, I had done general boat repairs during the eight years I lobstered commercially year-round out of Port Clyde.”

Vaitones says that, as far as can be documented, pea pods were first designed and built on North Haven around 1870. “They were built as a lobster boat, a rowing lobster boat. They were usually about 15’ long and in most cases the guys would row them standing and they would row backwards so they could see where they were going all the time, where their next trap was.”

The advantage of standing while rowing, Vaitones adds, was that the fishermen didn’t have to keep getting up when they got to a trap. “And much like a dory, peapods are designed to tip to a point but then a lot of stability kicks in. So if you’re hauling a trap and leaning over the side, it goes down with you, but then it stabilizes. And probably the more weight you have in the boat—bait, lobsters—the more stable it becomes.” He pauses to let that sink in, then adds with a wry smile, “So, hopefully, as the day goes on, you trade bait for lobsters.”

As the peapod developed on North Haven, Vaitones notes, some builders added masts for sailing and, when power came along, some added engines. But his preference has always been is for a vessel intended to be rowed.

Vaitones says he made one major modification to Arch Davis’ plans. “The plans called for the boat to be lapstraked, so that the hull looked like clapboards on a house. But in reading through the plans I thought it was a complicated way of building. As I made the stations I thought, this is identical to how I built canoes. Each station is different and so you are bending the wood of the hull around the stations to a stem. So once I decided I was going to build it out of cedar strips it was a matter of modifying the plans to make it come out.”

Vaitones used flexible yellow Alaskan cedar strips in constructing his peapod.

Vaitones used flexible yellow Alaskan cedar strips in constructing his peapod.

The yellow Alaskan cedar strips, which Vaitones bought from a company in New Hampshire, are very, very flexible and measure 3/4” by 1/4” cove and bead. One side of the strip is coved in and the other side is rounded out as a bead. The strips are edge-glued and stapled to hold them in place, with the staples being pulled out once the hull is assembled. Vaitones made the floorboards and seats out of fir decking he got from E.L. Spear. “The fir has no knots, so it was nice clean lumber,” Vaitones notes. To give a little accent to the seats he inserted cedar strips bead edge up between the decking.

Finally, Vaitones gave both the outside and the interior of his peapod a skin of fiberglass. “I probably didn’t need to put the fiberglass on the inside, but by the time you’re sanding the cedar strips to get the glue out of them they are pretty thin, so I know now I can’t punch a hole in the hull. I used epoxy and I used a light cloth—with bigger boats I’ve used a heavier cloth—but this ties it together.”

Once he began actual construction of the peapod, he’d be out in his workshop by about 6am. “I’d get an hour’s work in and then there would be six or 12 hours of dry time. I’d sometimes come out to the workshop at about 7pm, do another 15 minutes of work so that it would be dry for me to work on in the morning.”

Vaitones admits there were moments when, even with Arch Davis’ plans in hand, he got stuck. “I made mistakes and I got to places where I didn’t know what I was doing, so I would back off and do some research or talk to somebody like George Emery to get some advice.”

The oars for Vaitones’ peapod were made in Orono, by Shaw & Tenney, a company founded in 1858 that is now the second oldest manufacturer of marine products in the U.S. The company’s website states, “We make our products just as we did in 1858—to last a lifetime.”

Since launching his peapod, which Vaitones named Jeuros Skitlas (Sea Glass) in honor of his Lithuanian grandparents on his father’s side, Vaitones has been building up his rowing strength with short excursions in front of his and wife Ginny’s home on Teel Cove. Eventually, both he and Ginny expect to be venturing further out along the St. George River.

“We’ll probably row up and down the river, but when we’ve been out in our 25’ dual console with a 250 HP outboard on it—a boat that can cover 60 to 100 miles in a day on the various bays—we’ve had enough close encounters with kayaks that I don’t want to put myself out there in a not very maneuverable rowing vessel on a day when the fog comes in. I’m not planning to cross the Atlantic. I’ll happily stay on the shorelines.”­
—JW

PHOTOS: Julie Wortman

Feeling at home again

Nature bummin’ with Kirk Gentalen

Snowberry Clearwing Moth

Snowberry Clearwing Moth

Vacations are great. Returning in a relaxed state, with “new” eyes and a clean plate ready for connections both “re-“ and “new” can be a blast. Things get back to normal, but not exactly how things were when you left, because your vacation changed you. Hopefully for the better, but whatever. Time to get back to feeling “at home.”

For some reason birds are often what first grabs my attention when exploring a new world or an old world with new eyes. After returning from a recent adventure, I found myself tapping into the local chickadee scene to catch up on what was going down in the neighborhood—songbird speaking, of course. From their chatter it was clear the chickadees’ behavior had changed in our time away. First off, the chickadees were part of a sizable flock, as their “chip” and “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” calls were mixing in with calls from other avian species. As day lengths grow shorter, black-capped chickadees dissolve their territories and merge with neighboring chickadee groups to form larger flocks. Safety in numbers is key when courting and breeding seasons are over. Chickadee groups also allow other songbirds (and woodpeckers, etc.) to take advantage of the kind of survival strategy that only a “mixed-species flock” can supply. The first group of chickadees I saw had Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, a young Magnolia Warbler, a Northern Parula and a small handful of Black-throated Green Warblers mixed in. The sight made me feel a bit more at home …

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

I then got all jazzed up to “reclaim” the meadow trail system in our yard. After a few weeks of un-checked, mid-summer growth, the trails had become an “aster jungle.” Before I was to “rehabilitate” the plants on the pathways, I strolled through and checked out what this “micro-jungle scene” was made of fauna-wise. Finding dragonflies perching and hunting from the flowers was no surprise as was seeing bees, flies and butterflies slurping up nectar as they tried to avoid the dragonflies. The presence of Clearwing Moths (Genus Hermanis), however, was what got me most excited. The two species of Hermanis are collectively referred to as “Hummingbird Moths,” but in reality they come in two separate flavors—“Snowberry Clearwing” (H. diffins), whose abdomens are mostly yellow, and the “Hummingbird Clearwing” (H. thysbe), whose abdomens are orangey-red. The combination of coloration and abdomen shape inspires my friend Amanda Devine to refer to the H. thysbe as “Skylobsters.” Fitting description. Both species were inhabitants of the aster jungle that day and I couldn’t have been happier.

Red-black Salamander

Red-black Salamander

Where most moths flit around slowishly at night and gather at lights (boring!), these Clearwing Moths were flying faster than fast—zipping from flower to flower and then eventually zipping by my head. By far the coolest moths to watch!!! Crossing paths with both species was a wonderful welcome back to the ‘hood. I still slayed the asters in my yard trails—but there are plenty of flowers “off trail” for the Clearwings to tap into! If I wasn’t totally feeling at home yet, I was well on my way.

Nothing, though, can “take one home” as much as a good ole creek walk can. For our creek walk adventure Leif and I grabbed some nets, snagged a couple of buds—Oliver and Clifford—and headed to Jones Creek. Water was flowing strong after a recent rain, and frogs were jumping in mad dashes as they spied the four of us trucking none-so-stealthfully down the creek. After one green frog was secured in our bucket (and several more took advantage of the endless number of hiding places in the creek), we

Releasing the frog

Releasing the frog

switched gears to salamander “hunting.” We’ve found adult Northern Dusky Salamanders close to the creek on past visits, but on this day we were fortunate enough to find larval salamanders still in the creek! “This year’s model” of Dusky’s, complete with external gills. We wrapped up our outing with a Red-backed Salamander and numerous Amanita mushrooms. Needless to say, we were pumped and I was feeling more and more grounded and present. Nothing hits the spot like a good creek walk, with four sets of eyes looking. The more the merrier.

It can be great to get away, and it can be just as great to get back. Back in the groove, back on the train, back in the neighborhood. Back home. Come back with different eyes and reconnect in whatever ways suit you. Nature is an easy one, because “you can’t and you won’t and you don’t stop.” There is no place like home.

PHOTOS: Kirk Gentalen

Photo: Mid-Coast School of Technology

Installation of the mural on the facade of the new Mid-Coast School of Technology building in Rockland began the week after Labor Day. St. George artist Katharine Cartwright served as the Artist Consultant on the project, which involved students from the school’s graphic design and technology program. Find out more about the complexities involved with creating the mural by looking up The Dragon’s feature story on the project, “The challenges behind creating a compelling outdoor mural aimed at celebrating MCST’s presence in Rockland,” in our March 14, 2019 issue.

Installation of the mural on the facade of the new Mid-Coast School of Technology building in Rockland began the week after Labor Day. St. George artist Katharine Cartwright served as the Artist Consultant on the project, which involved students from the school’s graphic design and technology program. Find out more about the complexities involved with creating the mural by looking up The Dragon’s feature story on the project, “The challenges behind creating a compelling outdoor mural aimed at celebrating MCST’s presence in Rockland,” in our March 14, 2019 issue.

PHOTO: Jonmikel Pardo

Dragon Eats

Maine Peach Pound Cake

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh peaches, pitted & chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 inch tube pan and coat with white sugar.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Reserve 1/4 cup of flour for later, and sift together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Use the reserved flour to coat the chopped peaches, then fold the floured peaches into the batter. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with a fresh peach or blueberry sauce if you like.

Celebrating completion of the Keeper’s Barn and Workshop at the Marshall Point Lighthouse

Members of the Lighthouse Committee attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 28. From left to right: Dave Percival, Laura Betancourt, Joan Duffy, Diana Bolton, Nat Lyon, Jan Gaudio, Craig Parsons, Lynne Hall, Lorraine Hupper, Mark Bartholomew

Members of the Lighthouse Committee attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 28. From left to right: Dave Percival, Laura Betancourt, Joan Duffy, Diana Bolton, Nat Lyon, Jan Gaudio, Craig Parsons, Lynne Hall, Lorraine Hupper, Mark Bartholomew

On Wednesday, August 28, 2019, Marshall Point Lighthouse and Museum celebrated the completion of the reproduction Keeper’s Barn and Workshop with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Many community representatives, journalists, donors and lighthouse volunteers gathered for the historic moment.

The original barn was built about the turn of the 20th century and served as storage and work space for the lighthouse keepers. Several of the keepers used the barn as a secondary means of support. Shoemaking and lobster-trap building were among the occupations practiced in the Keeper’s Barn and Workshop. The Coast Guard removed the old barn in 1971, when the light became automated, no longer requiring a keeper.

The Lighthouse Committee wishes to thank everyone for their generous donations of time and money which made successful completion of this project possible. It was a true community effort. Port Clyde pastor, Randall Thissell helped in consultations with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. Local builder Paul Gill, who at one time lived in the keeper’s house with his family, led the crew that built the beautiful post-and-beam barn. Jay Cook of Tenants Harbor provided the stone foundation work, using granite from the old Wildcat Quarry. Local builder Steve Thomas, former host of “This Old House” on PBS, donated time for a fundraising event. The support of many local businesses, artists, organizations, residents, visitors and lighthouse lovers helped us meet the challenge of raising the $150,000 needed.

The barn will allow consolidation of artifacts in one place, making rotation of exhibits easier. Come by and see the outstanding workmanship of our newest addition to the campus. And watch for some of the additional projects in the works, like a webcam, and the return of the Marshall Point 5th Order Fresnel lens, which has been at the Lighthouse Museum in Rockland.
—Laura Betancourt

PHOTOS: Top, Sean Fowlds, bottom, Carolwood Productions

Native plant corner

Wild bergamot (monarda fistulosa)

Wild bergamot (monarda fistulosa)

We have been enjoying the hummingbird and insect activity in a sea of wild bergamot (monarda fistulosa) blooming in the gardens since early August. A clump-forming, showy member of the mint family, monarda fistulosa is a Maine native with pale lavender to violet pom-pom like blooms which appear from late July through September. The dense globular flower of wild bergamot is made up of a cluster of hollow tube-like structures that deliver nectar to long-tongued bees, day and night flying moths, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Fritillary butterfly in wild bergamot

Fritillary butterfly in wild bergamot

Wild bergamot thrives in dryish to medium moist (but not wet) soils in full sun to partial shade and can tolerate somewhat poor soils. Typically, bergamot grows two to four feet in height, forms clumps, and may self-seed to form a substantial colony in the garden. Its complex lavender bloom sits atop a square stem. Each dense flower head rests upon a whorl of showy pink leafy bracts. The toothed greyish-green leaves are very aromatic and some use these leaves to steep for a minty tea.

Hummingbird Clearwing Sphinx Moth nectaring in wild bergamot

Hummingbird Clearwing Sphinx Moth nectaring in wild bergamot

Wild bergamot is an excellent addition to your pollinator garden and is complemented at this time of year by yellow composite flowers like native black-eyed Susans (e.g. rudbeckia hirta and rudbeckia triloba) and native ox-eye sunflower (helianthus helianthoides), mauve colored Joe-pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) and white boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum).
—Jan Getgood

PHOTOS: Jan Getgood

Addressing the disconnect between water supply and demand

When Robert Glennon spends time at his seasonal residence in Martinsville, he says he can’t help being mindful about his well and the groundwater it supplies. Groundwater, in fact, is something Glennon thinks about quite a bit—along with every aspect of how humans get the water they need to sustain their lives. A professor at the University of Arizona’s Rogers College of Law, Glennon’s specialty is water policy and law, which involves searching for ways to solve the serious challenges this and other countries face around water sustainability and planning.

“Groundwater is a much misunderstood resource,” Glennon says. “And it’s an incredibly valuable resource. We have a well and I think most people on this peninsula have wells. So private wells in Maine have a very special importance for the people of Maine—more so than for people in big cities. We don’t have any surface water to use here and that makes it different even from Arizona, where my home is, because although it’s a desert, there’s the Colorado River. A big chunk of the water used in Phoenix and Tucson is from surface water, from the Colorado River, delivered through a 336-mile canal known as the Central Arizona Water Project. Really, throughout the West you see that. But in Maine, in the Great Plains states and in most of the world, people are using groundwater accumulated over tens of thousands of years, but they are using it in mere decades.”

Glennon says the biggest controversy around water in Maine has been Poland Spring and its bottled spring water. The company gets its name from the original spring in Poland. The spring’s water first began to be sold commercially in 1845. Poland Spring is now a subsidiary of Nestle, which has promoted Poland Spring water as particularly pure and refreshing as a way to increase sales. Demand today is so great that the brand’s water is now derived from multiple sources in Maine. The problem, Glennon says, is that spring water is a finite resource.

“An aquifer is like a giant milkshake glass and each well is like a straw in the glass,” he explains. “If you allow anyone to put a straw in, as most states do, you pretty quickly exhaust the supply.”

Recharge rates, he adds, often don’t compensate for demand.

“When we use well water here in St. George, some of it gets recharged in your septic system. So when you take the water out, some of it goes back. But in the case of Nestle and Poland Spring, it’s 100 percent consumptive. Every drop that they pump out and put into a bottle goes away, never to come back to the watershed where it was drawn. In the case of springs, the spring is a tiny rivulet flowing into a pond and Nestle is putting in wells a short distance from these springs, pumping 500 to 600 gallons a minute. This devastates the spring because the ground water is connected to the surface water. In addition, the cold fresh water from the spring is what provides the nutrients and the temperature control for the fish habitat in the pond or the bigger river. So it is all connected. If you are pumping water from springs, you are intercepting water that is flowing to the rivulets, flowing to the river, flowing to the ocean.”

Glennon was among the first to focus a spotlight on the impact the bottled water industry was having on the nation’s groundwater in his 2002 book, Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters. He is also the author of Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It (2009), in which he details the ways extravagance and waste are depleting the nation’s water supply and offers what he calls “a policy quiver” of solutions.

“For fresh water, the problem to be addressed is really the disconnect between supply and demand,” Glennon says. “The earth is now at 7.6 billion people. The United Nations predicts we’re going to add another billion people by 2030. And by 20 years after that a billion more. Where are we going to get resources, water included, to feed and clothe and provide drinking water and sanitation water for that many people? And there’s an answer to that, I’m not pessimistic, but its going to require all of the political will and moral courage we have to keep this from becoming a human tragedy.”

Foremost in his policy quiver of solutions, Glennon says, is the arrow of conservation.

“Conservation is about using more wisely the water you have. That could be anything from replacing an old six-gallon flush toilet to one that uses 1.4 or 1.28 gallons. It can be changing shower heads to use less. Two things that people don’t usually think about, which I think are big are, one, stop using your kitchen food disposal. If you use that disposal two minutes a day to get rid of food scraps you may use as much as 150 gallons a month just to get rid of food scraps. So put them in your compost pile. Or in the trash—putting them in the landfill is better than putting them into your septic system. Or two, if you want to save water, turn off the light or stop posting videos of your cat on You Tube—all of that is costing electricity.”

The second arrow in the quiver is reuse. “Water treatment plans have been used to dump the treated water into the ocean and that’s because treated water has been considered waste water,” Glennon says. “But all you have to do is purify that water.”

Desalination, too, while very expensive can also be part of the solution. As can water marketing and reallocation, the practice of allowing no new pumping unless an existing pumping facility is shut down. “Price is big,” Glennon says. “I want people to pay for water.” A 2014 publication he and two co-authors prepared in collaboration with the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution (Shopping for Water: How the Market Can Mitigate Water Shortages in the American West) details how putting a price on water could promote more efficient methods of using water. Glennon says farmers, in particular, need to be encouraged to use water more efficiently. “Farmers consume 80 percent of the water. But as long as they have water rights there is no incentive to stop practices such as flooding fields.”

Glennon absolutely believes that the U.S. is facing a water crisis, as his book Unquenchable details. And he also notes, with a wry smile, “The unlimited human capacity to ignore reality.” In the case of water, he says, “it is always that there is an oasis out there somewhere and all we have to do is augment the supply, bring more in, tow an iceberg, divert the flow of rivers. But I say let’s look closer to home. I’m not despairing. Things are happening. We have the tools available to fix the problem. But we have to be realistic. Water is a public resource, but right now access to it is limitless, so it’s a complete contradiction.”­—JW

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

A fiber artist trained ‘mostly through osmosis’

Clockwork Orange

Clark Island resident Jim Vander Noot creates unique award-winning art quilts that range from impressionistic to abstract imagery. Art quilting is a form of fiber art similar to painting a picture, but with fabric and thread instead of canvas and paint. This art form employs both modern and traditional quilting techniques and differs from “bed quilting,” which relies upon established patterns. Vander Noot is nationally known for imaginative fused applique quilts accented by dense quilting also known as threadpainting. It took many decades and a long career in computer programming before Vander Noot achieved a professional level in this art form.

Raised in Montclair, New Jersey, both of Vander Noot’s parents were art teachers. Family vacations were times when his parents would sketch all day as the young boy observed and even tried his hand at it. However, he had no patience for detailed work and was “turned off” to art altogether. It was fiber arts that had strong appeal for the youngster when he watched his mother sew fabrics and his grandmother knit. Trying his hand at knitting at age nine, Vander Noot fell in love with fiber arts and continued to explore them.

After high school, Vander Noot attended Bowdoin College, where he earned a dual-major degree in history and philosophy by 1974. While there, he enrolled in only one art course, which “was a kind of an eye opener for me,” he recalls. “I actually felt I could do it. I learned that art is more forgiving.” During his college years, he applied that lesson to creating his own designs for crochet, knitting, crosstitch, and needlepoint. He also took a course in computer programming and another in accounting. These three courses set him up for a future career as a computer programmer and a fiber artist.

Degree in hand, Vander Noot joined Norcross greeting card company in Westchester, Penn., where his father was employed. Initially, he was in charge of ordering and the distribution of art supplies, but soon transitioned into computer programming for the company. After six years at Norcross, Vander Noot moved to Texas, working in telecommunications for Tenneco where he developed the standard for internet commerce. It was there that he met his wife, Terry. By 1997 another opportunity arose, so he and Terry moved to New York where Vander Noot worked for the Campbell Soup Company as a telecommunications programmer and then as manager of the company’s global data network. Retirement arrived in 2013 as Vander Noot made the decision to care for his aging parents in Pennsylvania. So, the couple moved to be near his parents in Pennsylvania. However, they often vacationed in Maine and by 2007, the couple had purchased a second home in Clark Island, where they now spend most of their time.

During his years in telecommunications, Vander Noot found balance between his job and making fiber arts. Early on, when he was working at Norcross in the 1970s, he came across a quilting journal. “I was just mesmerized by the geometric patterns and colors,” he remembers. But it wasn’t until 1989 that he took his first quilting class, which was led by Karey Bresenhan at a quilt shop in Houston, Texas. Vander Noot gained expertise in quilting as he continued to take quilting classes over many years. “Taking classes has energized me so much,” he reflects.

Although he’s familiar with basic composition and color principles in fine art, Vander Noot is trained “mostly through osmosis,” as he puts it. Over time, he learned the importance of value over color in quilting designs. “With quilts, because you’re using fabric and thread, it’s difficult to know how much detail comes from the fabric and how much from the thread during quilting,” he explains. “I fell in love with thread painting when I first saw free-motion embroidery a few years ago.” This type of machine embroidery is highly complex and utilizes a range of thread colors and intricate patterns to exaggerate the pictorial effect. The process is very time consuming, and Vander Noot finds satisfaction in that. “I enjoy doing it for the meditative value and also the complexity of motion you can create.”

Vander Noot explains his process as a number of steps beginning with an original design that he creates. After selecting the appropriate fabrics for that design, which he often dyes, paints and textures himself, he cuts the correct shapes and fuses them to an interface fabric following his pattern. Although his basic design is established first, Vander Noot allows his intuition to build the design as it matures. Once all the fabrics are fused, thread painting begins, using a long-arm stitching machine. Batting, backing and edging complete the work of art.

As a member of the Maine Quilters Guild and the Coastal Quilters Guild, Vander Noot has plenty of opportunity to meet other art quilters. “So much comes from bouncing ideas of each other and seeing those lightbulb moments,” he remarks. He finds additional inspiration when he annually attends the Quilt Guy Quilt Camp in Vermont where fewer than twenty men gather to quilt together for four or five days.

Included in many exhibitions throughout the United States, Vander Noot’s quilts have won top awards and have appeared in numerous publications. In addition to making art quilts, the artist teaches workshops in the area. You may learn more about his activities and beautiful quilts at www.jimvandernoot.com. —Katharine Cartwright

Trekkers wraps up summer expedition season and fiscal year

Over the past two months, four of the 12 expeditions that are part of Trekkers’ year-round mentoring program covered 17 states across the U.S.

The 8th-grade Advance Trekkers trips took off shortly after school ended for their 10-day expedition across the Northeast. Team Vesuvis explored the White Mountains, went whitewater rafting on the Deerfield River, had a blast at Six Flags and spent time in Vermont learning about Buddhist meditation practices, eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and taking in a minor league baseball game. Team Krakatoa hiked in the Adirondacks, learned about the Amish in Pennsylvania and explored Connecticut.

Our 10th-grade teams had very successful Cross-America expeditions in July. Team Atlas went whitewater rafting in Montana, explored Yellowstone National Park, volunteered at an assisted-living facility and learned about the Eastern Shoshone culture. Team Beacon spent their 10 days exploring the Pacific Northwest—hiking the lava tubes at Mt. Saint Helens, volunteering at Benson Beach and swimming in the Pacific Ocean at Waikki Beach.

Expeditions like these offer our students a chance to build important life skills. As one student said following one of the trips, “I feel like I’ve developed leadership qualities and built confidence as a person.” A second spoke of an important insight: “I will think more about how my choices affect others around me”.

Talking together in group circles also offers the students a chance to reflect about and define their aspirations and to build personal strengths. “One of my strengths I gained was coming out of my shell,” one student noted. “An example of this was sitting with new people.” Another added, “I feel like I know myself better and what I need to do for myself. I also feel more confident.”

For nearly a quarter century, Trekkers has been cultivating the inherent strengths of young people through the power of long-term mentoring relationships. Trekkers was founded in 1994 as a community-based effort for at-risk middle schoolers from Thomaston and became a year-round mentoring program in 1999, eventually evolving into a six-year model that utilizes expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education and training to serve students in grades 7 to 12. In 2016, recognizing that youth throughout Maine and beyond would benefit from the Trekkers model, the Trekkers Training Institute was founded to provide youth development professionals and educators with training in Trekkers Youth Programming Principles. The Trekkers program is now being implemented in eight communities in Maine and beyond.

As Trekkers’ fiscal year ends on August 31st, please consider making a donation to help support trips like those our students took this summer, trips that allow students opportunities to broaden their horizons by increasing their awareness of different cultures and natural environments.

Three easy ways to give before August 31st: Visit the Trekkers website at trekkers.org; mail a check to Trekkers, 58 Park Street, Suite 202 Rockland, Maine 04841; or call the Trekkers development office at (207)594-5095.—Kate Elmes, Trekkers Development Director

Let’s make music and art as important as sports

Reflection

By Jed Miller

I am a life-long St. George resident and have three kids that have attended or still attend St. George School. The St. George School is a great school because it gives a lot of individual attention to each and every kid. It also provides a lot of different activities including band, all your classic sports, lacrosse, and many other extra curricular activities. One thing I’ve noticed since growing up in this area and also raising my kids, is that there still seems to be a greater amount of attention and esteem given to sports, particularly basketball. I myself have played and still play sports and love them. But it’s easy to become one dimensional and too focused on sports.

Sports are great for exercise, fundamental team-building skills, and learning to cope through adversity, but sports are not the only thing life is about. Sports can create a competitive environment, which is good to a degree, but that can make us forget about the beautiful parts about life. That’s where music and art come in.

Music and art slow us down and let us enjoy the moment and the beauty of that moment. I think that is severely important for every human. The world is fast-paced and ultra competitive, and we need to be prepared for that. But music and art last forever and make you feel better when things are getting too stressful. The St. George School does a great job of getting kids involved with music and art, but after they leave St. George a lot of kids don’t continue making music and art because they feel like it’s not “cool.” But music and art are cool, and they are pursuits a person can use forever.

So I would love to see kids become just as psyched about band as they are about the next basketball game. I’m sure that some kids are, but most aren’t. Maybe it starts with us parents. Maybe we as parents need to promote music and art as hard as we promote basketball, football, and baseball. Music and art are proven to be extremely beneficial for a child’s mental well being, as well as mental growth.

That’s just a thought coming from a sports nut and over-the-top parent.

St. George Cemetery Preservation Fund

A few years back some representatives of the major cemeteries in town came to the Select Board and asked for some financial assistance with the annual upkeep of their cemeteries. Because of a lack of volunteer help plus low interest rates on perpetual care funds, the privately-operated cemeteries were having problems keeping up with regular maintenance. The Select Board and the Budget Committee agreed that the cemeteries needed the town’s help. The cemeteries are not only the final resting places for local residents, they hold a great history of what this town has been. Seaside Cemetery in Tenants Harbor was eventually turned over to the town, while the North Parish Cemetery, the Ridge Cemetery and the Clark Hill Cemetery continue to be operated by cemetery associations.

The St. George Historical Society has recently created a Cemetery Preservation Fund to assist with the work necessary to save the gravestones that have tipped, fallen over and in some cases sunk into the ground. A generous donor started the fund off with a check for $750. All donations to this fund, that will be administered by the Historical Society in close cooperation with the cemeteries, can be earmarked for a specific cemetery, specific family stones, or used for gravestones that need the most attention. All donations are tax-deductible as the St. George Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation.

Donations should be made to the St. George Historical Society, P O Box 14, Tenants Harbor, ME 04860, with any specific instructions as noted above. If you have any questions about the fund, you may contact the Historical Society at stgeorgemainehistory@gmail.com or you may call John Falla at 207-701-9750.  —John Falla