BELGRADE — Rebecca Waterman, daughter of a firefighter, giggled recounting how she blistered her hands trying for nearly two hours to start a fire during Camp Loon’s Survivor Island.

Waterman, daughter of Freedom fire chief James Waterman, and the other 20 or so sixth- through ninth-grade boys and girls gather weekdays at 8 a.m. to tackle daily adventures at the Belgrade Community Center For All Seasons.

“This (Survivor Island) is a brand new thing,” said Jessica Moore, Belgrade recreation and community center director. “It’s outdoor education they can take with them and use down the road.” She said parents helped create the program.

The young survivors learn to tie knots, set up tents, identify animal signs and build shelters using logs, branches and pine needles in the nearby cool, shaded woods off Route 27 and a 660-square-foot refurbished pine cabin a few steps from the Great Pond waterfront.

During the 10-day session, campers also earned cardiopulmonary resuscitation certifications.

While compiling a camping survival kit, Cassandra Proctor, 11, of Belgrade, said she liked waterproofing matches by dipping the heads in melted candle wax.

Gaby Languet, 12, of Belgrade Lakes, said righting a tipped kayak was a challenging confidence-booster and Tyler Bartlett, 13, of Wells, discovered that orange tiger lily petals taste like onions.

Bartlett said Wednesday that he is eager to catch fish, clean them and cook them over a fire.

During Thursday’s overnight camping trip, Bartlett would have a chance to do all three.

Meeting new people was atop Hani Dajani’s wish list.

The 11-year-old from Jordan, who speaks Arabic, English and French, said he liked being outside.

If not for camp, Kennedi LeBlanc, 12, of Sidney, said she would likely be inside in front of a computer.
Thomas Leo said learning to survive in the wild has made him ravenous.

“I’m more tired and I’m eating more,” the 11-year-old said.

On Wednesday morning, campers boarded the Maine Congress of Lakes Association’s pontoon boat Melinda Ann with Phil Mulville, the organization’s lake educator.

He planned to dredge a small portion of the lakebed and examine contents, which he said sometimes include dragonfly larvae and damselfly larvae.

Moore invited family, friends and community members to Friday’s dedication of the waterfront cottage, which was renovated by volunteers, and to watch Survivor Island participants showcase their outdoor skills.

Following a boat-building camp that will begin Monday and last all week, run by the Portland-based Compass Project, Camp Loon returns with a two-week Amazing Race session starting July 25, and a two-week King of the Hill session starting Aug. 8.

Campers will learn about orienteering, explore trails and take part in other outdoor adventures.

Beth Staples — 861-9252
[email protected]

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