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by Pete Kallin
Suddenly summer is in full swing, and the [road] construction in the village is paused for a while. The new parking places are being tested and people are adjusting to walking on brick sidewalks and visiting the new Village Green. Exciting stuff.
Every year I am struck by how many of our visitors are here because of the youth camps, which bring in not only the kids but also their parents. Some of these camps have been on our lakes for more than a century (e.g. Pine Island Camp and Camp Runoia), and many of their alumni have retired here. Other camps include Pine Tree Camp on North Pond, Camps Matoaka and Manitou on East Pond, Camps Tracy and Modin on McGrath Pond-Salmon Lake, New England Music Camp on Messalonskee, and the Boy Scouts' Camp Bombazeen on Great Pond. Even camps that don't exist anymore such as the former tennis camp on Taconnet Island and former Camp Kennebec on Salmon Lake have sizeable populations of alumni that have settled permanently in our community with friends they have known for decades.
Good water quality is important to all these groups and they are all strong supporters of the local lake associations and other conservation organizations such as the 7-LA, formerly the BRCA and MLRC. Each of these groups brings a different wrinkle to our unique community and a slightly different sense of place but all help make our community a special place. I meet many hikers on local trails who first hiked here as campers many years ago.
I managed to get out hiking a bit on some of the 7-Lakes Alliance trails and met three generations of the Peaslee Family from Augusta hiking at French Mountain. Uncle Aaron works at Good Will Hinckley School and has led hikes by groups of their students on several 7-LA trails. On a day off last week, he took his mom, sister and assorted nieces and nephews hiking on French Mountain to introduce the kids to hiking.
My friend, Dick Greenan, had his son, Jason, daughter-in-law, Devon, and a couple of grandkids visiting for the week. The kids are enjoying a busy week of hiking, water skiing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Eight-year old Sean proved you don't need teeth to catch a fish off Grandpa's dock or to eat ice cream at Lakeside Scoops. The fishing continues to be excellent, especially for bass, pike, and rainbow trout. I caught and released several fat rainbows early one morning.
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 7 Lakes Alliance at the Maine Lakes Resource Center. Also, please check the 7-LA Facebook page for details on some interesting events scheduled this summer. Also keep an eye on the sign out front. And make sure you take a kid along on your next outdoor adventure.
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, which merged with the Maine Lakes Resource Center in December 2017 to form the 7-Lakes Alliance.