Facebook has this interesting habit of reminding you of things that occurred on this day in previous years. The last few weeks have included many things I posted in relation to reading AP Calculus exams in Kansas City which are a lot of fun to look back on. In addition, there have been numerous reminders of things that occurred two years ago at this time. Some of those reminders have stirred up feelings and memories that I had pushed to the back of my mind.

This morning I was reminded that two years ago today (June 18th) was my last day of work at Mt. Abram High School. This picture I stopped to take as I left the school as a teacher for the last time.

My daughter, Annie, had spent the day with me as we emptied my classroom and loaded the suburban with 24 years of materials and memories. When we got home, I walked into the dining room and broke down and cried.

But life goes on. And the change, although hard, has been a very good one.

For the past two years I have been the district math coach in RSU #74 in North Anson. This involved joining the Maine Mathematics Coaching Project (MMCP) at the University of Maine at Farmington, which included 3 graduate level courses, some summer seminars, and visits from a field coach supervisor each semester to observe me while I was coaching a teacher and giving me feedback.

My job as a coach is working with teachers primarily. I support them in their classrooms, sometimes co-teaching or modeling a lesson, while other times I observe and give them feedback. I get to interact with children of all ages throughout the district now, as opposed to having just one classroom where I have 6 or 7 different classes.

This has opened up new opportunities for me as well. Currently I am on the advisory board for the MMCP. In addition, the project has received a grant to expand the coaching project to include grades 9 – 12, and I will be working to help develop those courses. I have also had opportunities to be involved with the College Board on setting standards for the new SAT, as well as a standards alignment for the new SAT.

As I wrap up my second year in RSU #74 I realize how fortunate I am to have made this transition. I have the ability to impact many more students, and at a much younger age, than in my job at Mt. Abram. Although at one point I believed I would spend my entire career at Mt. Abram, this change has overall been a very positive one for me. Although I miss many of the people that I used to work with, I have found some great new people that I work with as well.

It is with the deepest regret that I announce my resignation from my position of Mathematics Teacher at Mt. Abram High School, effective August 21, 2015. I have had 23 wonderful years teaching at Mt. Abram, and one year that has effectively closed the door for me to continue in this job.

Many people, following my statement to the school board on April 30th, concluded that I was unhappy with the salary and benefits in this district. It is perhaps pointless to say this, but I will re-iterate what I said at the budget meeting on May 28th: I know this district cannot afford to pay me what I am worth. I have taught here for 24 years knowing that I could have made a lot more money, either in another district, or in another occupation. I did not go into this job for the money; rather, I have been a teacher at Mt. Abram High School for all of these years because I love this area. I wanted to bring my knowledge and expertise in mathematics to the young people of Northern Franklin county, believing that they deserve as good of an education as students in wealthy communities.

The Board of Directors of MSAD 58 have some wonderful people serving who truly care about education and the students. However, the actions of the Board as a whole communicate a different story. Specifically, in February 2014 the Board of Directors made a decision about the teaching load of the faculty at Mt. Abram High School without any discussion about the impact of such a decision with the faculty, nor with any apparent discussion of the actual educational value. This was done in an attempt to “develop a schedule that takes into consideration the need for more advanced courses, supplemental math, supplemental reading courses, and other electives that would challenge our advanced students, aid our struggling students obtain a standards based diploma, and help graduating students find employment in the workforce.

This decision, made with no input from the teachers, resulted in a schedule that was impossible to build. Although administrators tried multiple times, it was not possible to build a schedule that allowed for “half blocks” for teachers to teach, or students to be assigned to. The end result was a schedule that had teachers instructing 7 periods out of 8 in one semester, and 6 out of 8 in the alternate semester. To accomplish this directive of the Board it required, among other things, AP students to have one semester of a double block (2 ½ hours) of their AP course, and the opposing semester to have a single block (75 minutes.) This schedule also created more conflicts in the master schedule, which means it resulted in MORE students enrolled in study hall during the second semester than the previous year. Perhaps most importantly, this teaching schedule mandated by the school board resulted in ZERO additional learning time for students. Prior to this schedule change, students had 8 blocks of instructional time to choose from. Following this schedule change, students STILL had 8 blocks of instructional time to choose from.

This spring the teachers at Mt. Abram High School, in collaboration and with the support of the administrators, put together a proposal as requested by the board during belated negotiations concerning the extra teaching time. That proposal would have met the goals of the board stated above as discussed during the February 2014 director’s meeting. The teacher’s plan would have provided over 50 hours of additional learning time for every student (almost half a period over the course of the school year) and it would have made better use of the Mountain Time period in the middle of the day.

On April 16th, Principal Marco Aliberti presented to the school board this proposed schedule change. It was imperative that a decision be rendered quickly, as student sign ups for courses for the next year were on hold until this proposal was settled. The board correctly decided that they were obligated to meet with the teachers in a formal “Meet and Consult,” as this schedule would result in a change of working conditions, and Maine Labor Law requires such a meeting.

On April 30th, the teachers of Mt. Abram met with the school board prior to the board meeting for the “Meet and Consult” session to discuss the proposed alternative schedule. All the teachers that I have spoken with were of the opinion that it was a productive meeting, with good discussion and questions. In fact, I would say that we were optimistic about the results. Knowing it was critical for a decision, and knowing that it was on the agenda for the meeting to follow, I was hopeful that this schedule might be considered and even immediately implemented. I was frankly shocked, then, when that point in the agenda arrived to hear the chair state that this had already been discussed prior to the meeting, and then move on to the next item with no decision.

The May 14th board meeting was the final straw for me. Although the agenda called for a presentation about some changes to the high school course of studies, the board raised the question about the schedule change proposed by the teachers two weeks prior. After making a motion to adopt the proposed change to the middle of the day, and then having that motion rescinded, the board chose to make no decision. This had the effect of keeping the schedule the same, regardless of the information showing that requiring high school teachers to teach 6.5 classes does not meet their stated goals. The next day I mailed my application packet to a nearby district.

What I have found most troubling through all of this is that these decisions, which CLEARLY impact students and student learning, are being made with no regard to the input of the professional educators. We as teachers are the ones who see the students day by day. We know their struggles, we know their weaknesses, and we are constantly reflecting either personally or with others about how to improve their education. Nor do we limit ourselves to those within our buildings; teachers talk to colleagues in other districts to find better ways of meeting student needs. All of this experience, however, was ignored by the Board of Directors.

There is a seriously flawed assumption among many in our communities about the teacher’s job. “Teachers work less than 8 hours a day” and “teachers only work 180 days of the year” are common statements made by individuals who believe that teachers are overpaid and underworked. The flawed assumption is that teachers are hourly employees. To the contrary, teachers are salaried employees. This means that they are paid an agreed-upon sum of money to do an agreed-upon job. If this requires me to put in time before 7:45 AM or after 3:00 PM, then that time is part of my time on the job. When I put in time on the weekends grading papers, or in the summer taking courses, that too is part of the time on the job.

Unfortunately, this flawed assumption that we are hourly employees has forced teachers into a position of defending how much time they spend both inside and outside of the school day. Such should not happen. In fact, I have found myself saying that these hours are extra time that I am not paid for. This is actually not true. When I signed the contract to teach, it was for an agreed-upon job description.

In my statement that I read aloud at the Board meeting on April 30th, I mentioned that I had given testimony at a Maine Labor Relations Board hearing in March with regards to the extra teaching period. I made reference to the testimony by the board representative. I now have a transcript of the actual hearing, and there are two quotes that are worth mentioning, keeping in mind that this testimony was given under oath:

  • When asked “Did you feel as a Board member that a financial resolution to the study hall monitor issue was an appropriate–is that something that you can support?”, the board representative answered “No, not me, and I think I can speak that a lot of the Board was also not interested in that. The Board feels that salary employees are paid for the time that they are at their job and not necessarily for exactly what they do within the hours that they’re at the place of work.”
  • When asked by one of the hearing officers “You testified at one point that they were salaried employees and you felt because they were salaried they weren’t entitled to any additional compensation for that time, or did I understand that correctly?”, the board representative answered “A salary employee is paid for the time that they’re at their job, and what duties fall within that time period are determined by the Board.”

This is the fundamental issue for me as to why I can no longer work in this district. A salaried employee is paid, by definition, for the entire job they are doing. This includes time within the day, as well as time outside of the day. For 24 years as a teacher, and for my entire life growing up, I have observed the teaching profession and watched teachers put in countless hours OUTSIDE of the scheduled school day.

The rationale of the board to justify removing planning time boils down to the belief that they can assign whatever duties they wish during the school day. (In all fairness, upon further pressing by the hearing officer, the board representative DID agree that there were some limitations.) To hear that the board feels that our pay is ONLY for the time we are in school, completely re-defines the job. I cannot, from 7:45 AM – 3:00 PM, do a quality job as a teacher. And if I cannot do a quality job, then I will not continue being a shadow of a teacher, just filling the classroom with a body.

Many people believe that high school teachers “do not need 75 minutes of planning time” each day. The people I have heard stating this opinion also do not have any idea about the demands of state mandates, specifically the law requiring Proficiency Based Diplomas. Nor do they seem to recognize how important it is for teachers to have time to meet with students to assist them, to plan the next instructional lessons based on results from the assessments just taken, or to have time to talk to parents about how their students are progressing.

It appears that the board has failed to understand that when they assign an additional class to be taught, they are changing the understanding of what teachers are paid for. If we have been paid, for 15 years, for teaching 6 classes out of 8, to arbitrarily change this is no different than when a contractor gives a quote for a job which is accepted, but then once the job begins the client adds on to the specs of the job and expects it to be done for the original amount.

Because many people will attribute my resignation to the stalled contract negotiations, I wish to re-emphasize, once again, that my departure is NOT about the contract (or lack thereof), the amount of my salary, or the insurance. It is about my inability to work for a board and a community that appears to care nothing for quality education, ignores the recommendations of the professionals they have hired, changes the working conditions without consideration of the educational impact, and as a result demonstrate a lack of caring about the education of the students within our district.

To my students, I offer my sincerest apologies that this situation has reached this point. Although I feel that I personally could not have done anything differently, I also know that you will be hurt the most by the situation within our community. Please try to understand the reasons for my departure, and please hold on to the hope that things will improve. Make every effort to be successful, no matter how discouraging things may seem. There WILL be a light at the end of the dark tunnel you are now facing.

Respectfully Submitted,

Brian Signature

Brian A. Twitchell.

The final week of NEFC has come to a close, with about 45 people on camp. We had about 5 Stockaders, 15 Battalion campers, and no Frontiersmen. Several staff have also left, so there were some unique challenges to the week, especially in terms of the kitchen clean up after each meal.

We made every effort, however, to have an exciting week for the kids. For example, on Wednesday in addition to the Battalion doing their normal overnight, the Stockade also went out to Jockey Cap, a nearby scenic spot in Bridgton. On Thursday night I told the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, which included the lighting of the campfire by a “ball of fire from heaven”. In order to pull this off, we had a cable rigged that went from the campfire to a tree nearby. A staff member attached a bundle of rags soaked in kerosene to a pulley, and at the appropriate time lit the bundle of rags and released it to slide down the cable. Just prior to this, at the point in the story when Elijah poured 12 pitchers of water over the sacrifice, I had poured a bucket over the campfire. My bucket, however, did not have water but had white gas, which they use in cooking out on the trail. When the fire ball hit the fire, it created a spectacular fire.

We did this story last week, and unbeknownst to me the camp director wanted a bigger fire. Where last week they used about 3/4 of a gallon of white gas, this week he told them to use about 1/2 gallon more than the previous week. If you go to the NEFC Facebook Page you can see the week 6 video for camp – the last few seconds show the lighting of the fire.

Separate from camp, this week was also the preparation for my brother Doug’s wedding. Monday, Matthias and I went over to Oxford to help them move a bunch of tables and chairs in preparation for the reception. On Friday, we went over in the morning to help set up the tent and get things ready. And then on Saturday we had the wedding in the morning and the reception afterwards. We stayed around to help take down the tent. It was 9:15 by the time we got back to camp, but it was a wonderful wedding and reception.

This weekend has seen the Day Camp staff arrive. Today (Sunday) families from the area are coming in to register their children for Day Camp, which will run Monday – Friday. Most of the Twitchells, however, are heading home on Monday after breakfast. We are packing things up this afternoon and will load the vehicles this evening, in the hopes of leaving after breakfast in the morning. I am concerned about getting home, however. The last time I drove the suburban, it seemed to be giving some problems. We think it may be the computer module that controls the shifting and transmission, but we are not sure. In any event, I am hoping it will get us home so we can then figure out what needs to happen.

Next weekend we will back here at NEFC to pick up Matthias and to get the rest of our stuff that is down here. Sunday the 21st we will go back home, via Bryant Pond for the Jackson Family Reunion. Then, just one week later, school starts. It’s hard to believe that the summer is practically over, but it’s been a good summer, and I like to think that we have been able to be helpful to the ministry here at camp..

I never got around to posting an update after week 4, so here is an update for both weeks 4 and 5.

Week 4 was almost as big as week 3. There were a total of 76 people in camp. There were 13 Stockaders, 19 Battalion campers, 8 Frontiersmen, and 5 campers on the Water Adventure trip. The remaining 31 people were counseling staff and other support personnel.

We were fortunate this week to have Shelley Zoebisch helping in the kitchen. Her being here meant that Kathy did not need to do as much in the kitchen, and could focus on laundry, food ordering, and menu planning. Shelley was actually able to stay into week 5 for the first half of the week, which was wonderful.

Kathy and I took a day trip home during this week. While coming back, in the midst of a heavy downpour in Farmington, we drove through a large puddle, and for the remainder of the drive back to camp the car ran rough and sputtered whenever we headed up a hill or accelerated. The next day it was still running rough, and while Kathy and I were out picking up a trip, Ryan Hartwell, the camp director, pulled the spark plug wires and found that one plug was sitting in standing water. He blew it out and that seemed to solve the problem.

We also have been having problems with the Suburban. Twice now we have headed out of camp and the brakes have locked up, and we had to return to camp. One of the men who was here for the adventure trip – Pete Burgher – was more than willing to pull the tire off and replace the caliper, pads, and rotor. It was greatly appreciated, because although the parts are not horribly expensive, the labor charge at a garage would have been significant.

The weekend before Week 4 began was a huge challenge. We had discovered during week 3 that our well pump was only operating at 50% of its capacity, and we were having time*s when we had very low water pressure. Hiring someone to come in to replace the pump, plus buying a new pump would have been several thousand dollars. However, Pete and Dan Burgher, who ran the Water Adventure trip, had a contact where they could get a new pump at close to cost, and they brought up Dan’s tractor and we spent the day Saturday digging up the well, pulling the pump out, and getting it replaced. We pulled about 500 feet of black pipe out of the well to get to the pump. Of course, during this time we had no water on camp, but we had arranged to send all the weekend campers out of camp for the weekend, and managed to get through with minimal difficulty. By the time parents started arriving on Sunday we were back up to full capacity.

Week 5, which is ending as I write this, saw a total of 62 people on camp. There were 9 Stockaders, 15 Battalion campers, and 6 frontiersmen. Because of the smaller numbers, we actually had a few staff that did not get assigned to cabins, although they were actively involved in crafts and other parts of program. It also allowed some of our staff to be able to swap off some tasks and give people a little extra down time.

In some ways the coming week will be one of the more challenging ones. Several staff are leaving this weekend, and although we only have 20 campers next week, none of them are in the frontiersmen program. This means that staff will have to pick up the slack in things such as kitchen cleanup and bathroom cleaning. With a smaller staff already, it may be a particularly busy week for everyone.

Currently our plan is to move home at the end of week 6. Following week 6 is Day Camp for the kids in the local area, but we are expecting to be moving back home after the final food order is made Monday morning. This will give me about 2 weeks before school starts up again.

Please pray for the remaining staff as many of them are tired. We have an obligation to the week 6 campers to give them as good a program as those that came week 1 when everyone was fresh. Pray that the staff gets the rest they need this weekend, and that they have the energy they need for the week ahead..

Week 3 here at NEFC is drawing to a close today. This has been our biggest week yet, with 84 people on camp for the first half of the week, and 74 for the second half. There were 5 Father n Son pairs that came in on Sunday and left on Wednesday.

This has also been the busiest week so far for our family. We did not have an assistant cook this week, so Kathy spent many hours in the kitchen cooking, in addition to trying to stay on top of the food ordering and menu planning and keeping up with all the laundry.

On Tuesday, I drove the Fathers and Sons (along with Matthias, who was the staff working with them, plus David and Elias) to Cathedral Ledge in North Conway where we had lunch. After that, we went to Diana’s Bath where they enjoyed a couple of hours of playing in the natural water falls and water slides there. We stopped at Ben and Jerry’s on our way back for Ice Cream. Overall, we all had a great time.

Tuesday night was a really late night for Kathy and I, as after campfire there were two campers that we needed to take to the Emergency Room in Bridgton. There was concern about a possible broken thumb or wrist on one of them, and the other had an unexplained swelling in his foot. Both ended up without serious issues, but we did not get back to camp until 1:00 am.

On Wednesday, after we got the Battalion trips out of camp, Kathy and I went to Freeport to LL Bean, and then came back and went to the drive in theater in Bridgton, where we saw Harry Potter. That night was a little earlier – we got to bed around 12:00.

Because of the shortage in the kitchen, Annie got to do some cooking as well this week. She made cookies on a couple of different occasions, and she also made Rocky Road Brownies, which were a big hit.

Peter got an opportunity to sing this week – when staff get mail, they are encouraged to sing for their mail at meal time. Since he had to order an alarm clock, when it came in he got to sing for it.

Again this week I did the JC Bible Ex and the SC Bible Ex, as well as driving boat for the Wakeboarding craft. These activities tend to take up most of the morning for me, and then I get a little down time in the afternoon.

Friday, however, I ended up in the snack shack for a little while. Matthias was running the snack shack, but the door to open the store, which is a 2′ x 4′ sheet of plywood hinged at the top, and held up by a rope, fell on him and hit his head pretty hard. He went to the infirmary for while, and I helped cover the shop for a short while until he felt well enough to come back. He seems to have no particular injury, which is something to praise God for.

One of the things that typically happens around this time of the season is that the staff begins to get tired. Three weeks of campers have come and gone, and people are starting to get run down. We are beginning to strongly encourage staff members that they need to get extra sleep, either on their day off on the weekend or during their off time each day. Please pray that the staff will work hard to keep their energy levels up and that they will still be able to offer the quality program they have been doing for the first 3 weeks.

Week 2 here at NEFC has just ended. This week saw a total of 63 people on camp, plus 10 more people spending the week on the Moose River on a Canoeing Adventure Trip. We had 9 Stockaders, 17 Battalion boys, 7 campers on the Moose River trip, and 5 Frontiersmen. The remaining people were counselors, nurses, kitchen staff, maintenance, and other assorted support people.

The Canoe Trip left Monday morning about 10:00 am, and returned to camp Friday evening about 9:00 pm. They went up to the Jackman area where they canoed on the Moose River for the week, with their final day doing some white water rafting.

Because the Canoe Trip had the canoe trailer, one of the vans, and several canoes, the Battalion did not go out of camp for their weekly trip this week. Instead, they hiked up to near the end of the road to a large clearing left by the logging company and engaged in several activities involving Air Soft. In case you do not know what Air Soft is, think of BB guns with plastic BB’s, instead of metal BB’s. When they play Air Soft, they wear eye and fact protection, and create various scenarios where one group defends a location and another group attacks. Some of the counseling staff get very involved in this – camouflage clothing, high powered Air Soft rifles, and more. The Battalion absolutely loves these activities. They had their supper up there, camped out in the open area, and came back to camp late morning after breakfast and more Air Soft.

This week in addition to driving the motor boat for the Wake-boarding craft, I also took over the Junior Counselor Bible Ex and the Senior Counselor Bible Ex. I began each group with a discussion on legalism, and we kind of followed the topic wherever it would go. I led both groups into the book of Galatians, partly because that was the book we were working through in church on Sunday mornings before we came down to camp, so it was fresh in my mind. I suspect we will continue that discussion this coming week.

I DID take a day off this week (sort of). Tuesday Kathy and I dropped the 3 youngest kids in Oxford at my folks house, and headed to Kingfield. Kathy worked at the house on the garden, while I did about 4 computer calls. We came back to get the kids and managed to get back to camp just in time for evening campfire.

Today, after lunch, we took a trip to Gorham, NH. It’s about 45 minutes north of N. Conway, NH, where we typically go on weekends for staff to go shopping. However, the Wal-mart in N. Conway is a small one, and we have bought them out of candy for the snack shack. We decided we needed to go to a Super Wal-Mart to get what we needed, and the closest one (in NH) is in Gorham. So we left after lunch, with a couple of staff members, and got back about 5 hours later.

Tomorrow begins our biggest week yet of the summer. Currently, we are short-handed in the kitchen, so this will be a quite a challenge. We’re sure God will provide the staffing that we need, but it’s getting close to the beginning of the week and we are still waiting to see how he is going to work things out.

Thanks for continuing to pray for us as we serve here at NEFC!.

Week 1 saw a total of 61 people in camp. Of those 61, there are 3 CIT’s, 9 Stockaders, 14 Battalion campers, and 4 Frontiersmen. The remaining 31 people are various counselors, administrative staff, cooks, maintenance, nurse, and families.

The Stockaders are campers that are 8 – 11 years old. The Battalion Campers are ages 12 and up. The 3 CIT’s (Counselor in Training) are all 16 years old and have been in camp with the staff since Pre-Camp began 3 weeks ago. The Frontiersmen are 13 – 16 years old, and have a schedule that involves service as well as program activities.

During the week, the Stockade and Battalion campers each choose two skill sessions that they are in throughout the week. These sessions include things such as Archery, Air Riflery, Air Soft, .22, Chess, Wakeboarding, and more. They spend an hour and half in each session each day. In addition to these sessions, they spend time in Bible Exploration each morning with their senior counselor, they have a game time, and each afternoon they have a couple of hours of free swim time. In the evening they have some type of evening action time, and the night closes with a campfire of songs, skits, and stories.

This week forced a change in our weekly trip for Battalion. Normally, Battalion does an overnight trip Wednesday afternoon into Thursday. Because of the forecast, we moved that trip to Thursday afternoon into Friday morning. One group of campers climbed Blueberry Mountain and spent the night on the mountain, and the other group did a Canoe Trip down the Saco River. While the Battalion is off on their trips, the Stockade has a somewhat free afternoon, and then has Tin Foil Dinners someplace in camp for supper. They also have a flexible morning the next day, and their breakfast is cooked out over a fire.

These trips and cookouts are designed to give staff an extended period of time where they can talk with campers about Christ or other issues campers may be struggling with. It is also a great experience for the campers, whether they spend the night on a mountain or enjoy canoeing down the river. Part of what we want to do here is get campers to see nature in a way that they may have not seen before, and use that as an opportunity to talk about the creator of all things.

A few campers will be spending two weeks. Saturday, when the rest of the campers leave, these two weekers will be engaged in various activities around camp. They will be joined by a new batch of campers Sunday afternoon as we move into week 2.

During this past week, I spent time driving the boat for the wakeboarding craft, made drives into town for various supplies needed, drove the hiking trip out to Blueberry mountain, and ended the week being responsible for things as the camp director needed to be out of camp for 24 hours.

Kathy was extremely busy this week helping in the kitchen as well as trying to keep up on the laundry. She is working hard behind the scenes to help keep track of food available, as well as to help place the order each week.

Continue to pray for us as we serve here, pray for the staff as they interact with campers, and pray that the campers are impacted in a positive way in their relationship with God..

The last two weeks have flown by. We have been real busy here at New England Frontier Camp getting ready for the campers to arrive today.

I have been doing a variety of things. We are working to rebuild the Hillside Campfire site, and to that end we’ve been working on cutting logs and splitting them to make benches. These then need to have the bark stripped, and then taken down to the site to be installed. There are currently two benches in place, two more at the site ready to install, two more at the top of the property ready to take down, and one more log ready to split into two benches.

I have also been assisting the Camp Director with some of the training for the staff, and helping to coordinate tasks for everyone. It’s hard to realize that two weeks have gone by since we arrived – time just seems to disappear here!

Kathy has been working on a variety of things as well. She is responsible for the laundry for camp, both for the kitchen as well as for the staff. There are two washers and two dryers available, but if all 4 machines are turned on at once it pops the circuit breaker. Her preference in any event is to hang laundry out to dry, so she does that whenever possible. In addition to laundry, she is helping behind the scenes in the kitchen, with menu planning, food ordering, and some baking. And, of course, she still tries to do some school work with the kids – just because it is summer doesn’t mean learning stops!

Matthias is a huge help to the camp director in the office. He is doing all camper registrations and taking care of filing paperwork, entering payments, and organizing the camp store. From his Facebook post last night (or rather this morning), it appears he was up until about 3:00 am finishing up things for today.

Peter is a CIT – Counselor in Training. He and two other CIT’s have the task of getting the Hillside Campfire site ready. They have cleared out the old benches, started placing new benches, raked out the entire area, and are working on rebuilding the steps up that area. For many years the steps have been logs, which have rotted away, and the CIT’s decided to replace those with rock steps. Friday night the three of them spent the night in the woods. Initially they thought they were going on what is termed a “solo”, where they are by themselves for the night. They were given a list of items that they could “purchase”, being able to spend 10 points. For example, 3 matches were worth 2 points. A sleeping bag was 4 points. They had to make a choice from a dozen or more things to take with them. We actually, however, put them together, not separate. They were placed at their site about 5:30 Friday afternoon. They were not allowed to come out until the next morning, and they all had to memorize a different passage of scripture that they were given before they could leave. By 3:00 pm Saturday they were finally out of the woods – hungry, tired, and smelly, but having successfully completed the assignment.

Annie is helping out in different things around the kitchen and laundry as well. She regularly cuts up fruit or vegetables for meals, and she also helps mom to watch over the younger ones. David and Elias find ways to help as well, whether it is clearing tables, setting tables, or setting up chairs.

This afternoon the first batch of campers arrive. The staff has worked hard to prepare themselves and to prepare the camp for the arrival. Please pray for a successful ministry, reaching boys for Christ as well as helping them grow and mature in the faith. Pray all summer for the staff, as they work to be the servants that God wants them to be..

This summer I’m going to attempt to post weekly about our activities at New England Frontier Camp (NEFC). But first, let me give you a little history of my involvement with NEFC.

I first came to NEFC as a camper in the late 70’s. I think I was here for two years, and I remember during that time that they were building the Stockade area of the camp, about 1/2 mile from the main part of camp. The cabins in this area were built in the style of the old Blockhouses on the frontier, with the upper level overhanging the lower level by about 2 feet all the way around.

In 1986 and 1987 I came to the camp as a Senior Counselor. During the summer of 1987, my then fiance, Kathy, was the head cook in the kitchen. Two weeks after the conclusion of camp was our wedding. It was probably not the best way to spend the summer in preparation for our wedding, as we were quite busy, and had little time to plan. However, somehow we managed to pull it off.

In the summer of 1988, we came for just a week. I was in a cabin and Kathy helped out in the kitchen. In 1989 I don’t think we came at all.

In December 1989, we were looking forward to our first child being born in late June, when I got a phone call from the camp director. He said the administrative staff had been talking, and decided they would like me to be the Stockade Program Director, but they knew that I couldn’t do that with the baby coming. However, they decided to let ME make that decision, instead of making it for me by not asking. I think we surprised everyone when we said “Yes”. Josiah was 4 days old when he arrived at camp that summer – quite possibly the youngest person to ever be at camp.

I worked at camp the summers of 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994. During that time I went on the camp board for a period of time as treasurer, and worked as both Stockade Program Director and then as the assistant to the Camp Director. Matthias was a couple of weeks old in 1992 when he arrived at camp.

At the end of the summer of 1994, our pastor at home resigned, and that led me into a position of speaking each week at church. In addition, the summer of 1995 saw our 3rd child come along, and we decided that we could no longer work at camp. The strange thing was how completely we ended up separated from camp – I do not believe that we set foot on camp property again until May, 2010 when I took my Battalion group down for the Camp-O-Rama. Driving through the town of Lovell began to bring back many memories of camp, and it was quite a remarkable experience to drive down the camp road and begin remembering all the things that I had done there and been involved with. I had forgotten how much I missed the place, if that makes any sense.

Our family had talked about doing some camping that summer, and we found an opportunity with a “Hammer Camp” NEFC was hosting Memorial Day weekend for families. We decided we would go down and camp out in the back field and help out, and we had an absolutely fabulous time. All the kids had a lot of fun and we got a lot of projects done. Over that weekend, the camp director asked Matthias if he would be interested in coming on staff for the summer, and so Matthias sent in an application and subsequently spend the summer there.

We also found out that they were short handed in the kitchen, and so Kathy, Peter, David, and Elias spent 3 weeks there, which turned into 4 weeks. Annie and I made a commute back and forth between home and camp – I needed to stay on top of things at C-Prompt, as well as some projects I was working on at home.

We had such a fabulous time that we decided this summer we would spend the entire summer here. There may be times I will need to go home to tend to things at C-Prompt, but for the most part we are hopeful that the shop will continue without much need for me to be there. Kathy is helping out with the kitchen, both with orders and helping with some cooking, as well as taking care of laundry for the camp. Annie is helping out in those areas where she can as well. Matthias is doing a lot of office work, and Peter is a CIT (Counselor in Training). I’m kind of helping out with whatever I can do – networking, re-building campfire sites, and other miscellaneous things.

In the next day or two I will try to post a summary of our first week. Feel free to post any questions you might have! .

So it has been over 2 and half months since I posted anything here.  I guess I better bring you up to speed on my life over that time.

April is always a busy month, with the Maine State Math Meet.  This year the event was held on April 5th at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland.  It was the largest meet we have ever had.  Kathy and I go down on the Sunday afternoon before the meet, and spend Monday afternoon getting everything set up – from registration tables, to putting name tags on the tables for schools, to setting up the computer scoring network, and setting up the grading room.  My team usually arrives shortly after 5:00 pm, and I take them out to eat for supper.  On the day of the meet, I arrive onsite at 7:00, the meet generally ends around 3:00, and I try to be on the road for home by 4:00.

Once I recover from that event, we usually are close to April vacation, which it seems that I managed to get through without spending EVERY day at C-Prompt.

Once we hit May, things start picking up again.  My AP Calculus class took their AP exam on May 5th, so we had about a week of final preparation for that.  I began meeting with each senior Mountain Time to start going over expectations for graduation, including dress code, procedures, and doing some practice marching.  We took the Brigade group from church down to New England Frontier Camp for the weekend of the 20th for the annual Camp-O-Rama, which is a lot of fun.

The last full week of May was not really full for school, as we had no students on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.  We had a workshop day instead.  On Saturday we went to Jonathan and Karolyne Sloma’s wedding (Jonathan works for me at C-Prompt), and it was a beautiful wedding.  On Memorial Day itself I ended up spending about 4 hours in school getting things taken care of that needed to be done.

Thursday, June 2nd was our first formal Marching Practice getting the seniors ready for graduation.  Friday morning was our Senior breakfast, and then we had two more Marching activities on Monday June 6th, and then the Senior Farewell Assembly on Tuesday, June 7th.  I actually ended up going home early that day as I did not feel well at all.

Then that afternoon we headed down to Oxford to my folks where we spent the night, so that Kathy could get me to Portland by about 6:15 so I could catch a 7:20 flight out to Kansas City by way of Chicago.  In fact, that’s where I am currently writing this from.  I’m here grading the AP Calculus exam, and have finished 6 straight days of grading.  Tomorrow is our last day, and then I fly back home on Thursday.

Friday is our last day of school, so I’ll be working hard to get grades done and my room cleaned up.  I have very little time for this, as we plan to move on Saturday down to Frontier Camp in Lovell for the summer, where Matthias will be a Senior Counselor, Peter will be a CIT (Counselor-in-Training), Kathy and Annie will be helping out in the Laundry area and ordering food for the kitchen, and I’ll be helping out wherever I might be needed around camp.  I may have to come home each week to tend to things at C-Prompt, but we intend to spend a full 8 weeks at camp.

So – that’s where things have been for me the past several weeks, and that’s where things are going for the next 8 or so.  Maybe I’ll do better at keeping this updated while at camp!.