ROME — On a crisp but sunny Saturday, about 15 volunteers worked together to build a barn from the ground up at Maine’s only camp designed for adults and children with disabilities.

The 20-by-20-foot structure will house chickens, goats, pigs and potentially other animals at the Pine Tree Camp in Rome.

“For us, it’s going to give campers an opportunity to learn about caring for animals and a greater understanding of the value and importance of food chain things — you know, where do eggs come from? Hannaford, true, but how do they get there?” said Noel Sullivan, president and CEO of Pine Tree Society, which runs the camp. “From cleaning stalls to caring for the animals to also going to grab some eggs for a morning breakfast, it’s going to serve a few purposes.”

Pine Tree Camp, which has been open since 1945, serves about 670 Mainers during week-long sessions in the summer and 1,900 individuals during fall and spring programs. Sullivan said that the site along North Pond allows people who might not otherwise be able to enjoy the outdoors a chance to connect with nature and enjoy features — a tree house, motorized platform swing, kayak launch, etc. — that are specifically built for them.

“We find that a lot of people live in urban areas, particularly if they’re reliant on services,” Sullivan noted. “We aim to give everyone opportunities to explore nature and beautiful surroundings here in Maine.”

While tuition costs $1,000 a week, Sullivan said the organization does not turn anyone away and that the average family pays $95 a week to send a family member to the campus.


Local benefactor Brent Burger, of Oakland, financed Saturday’s barn project through the Burger-Roy Family Charitable Trust and the business he co-owns, Campbell’s True Value. Burger built a relationship with the organization through sponsoring two brothers to attend Pine Tree Camp for the past five years. It was his idea to orchestrate a traditional barn raising, which requires community participation and collaboration.

“I looked at the project and they were going to buy a prefabricated barn, and that didn’t make sense to me,” Burger explained.

Burger, who had never before participated in a barn raising, said he made architectural plans based on an image of the desired end-product that Pine Tree Camp provided him. Rome-based Kavestone Construction advised on aspects like building materials and the approach to construction.

“There were a lot of details that had to be really thought through, down to how many screws do we need to put the frames around the doors,” Burger explained during a break from building. “We wanted as much material on-site as possible so we could get this thing popped up quickly.”

Burger said the barn was a roughly $45,000 project but did not want to reveal the amount of his contribution. In addition to the financial gift, Burger helped secure donations of supplies and labor from local partners, including TLG Concrete, which poured the slab; Mattingly Products, which donated the concrete mix; Mainely Trusses, which contributed the building trusses; United Rentals, which donated a telehandler to move materials; and Higgins Construction, which helped complete site work. Central Maine Crane lent a tall crane that was especially helpful after the group hit a snag and had to move roughly half of the roof over a bit, according to Burger. Other than that, by mid-day, the volunteers had not encountered many difficulties with the process.

“We started with the foundation, and we now have the walls, the trusses, we’re going to put the roof on, we’re putting the siding on, we’ve got stuff all painted and ready to go up,” said Mary Brayall, of the Avangrid Foundation, which helped gather volunteers for the project. “I’ve been surprised by how quick it’s going,”


The Avangrid Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Central Maine Power Co.’s parent company, Avangrid Inc. Its volunteers also helped clear the barn site in the spring to prepare for Saturday’s work.

While about 15 people worked on the barn, an additional 20 or so volunteers helped clean up the camp’s 2.5-mile trail system — and add a half-mile portion that connects it into a loop. Among those volunteers were Sabattus couple Andrew and Rebecca Haughey, who met while working as counselors at the camp in 1991. Andrew Haughey, originally from England, learned of the camp at a recruiting event overseas and immediately knew it was a special place because of how many counselors had showed up to help bring in new employees.

“That tells you something (about this place),” Rebecca Haughey said.

The couple recalled working with a range of campers, who continued to impact them over the course of their lives. One particularly remarkable person, Enock Glidden, went on to climb El Capitan — a 3,000-foot vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park — despite not having the use of his legs.

“It was very eye-opening,” Andrew Haughey said of his first year on staff, when he was 19. “I lived half a lifetime in just three months.”

The Haugheys have seen the camp go through a series of transformations in the past several decades, from adding air conditioners to campfire sites to the new barn.


“It was very rustic in our time, but I love the improvements,” Rebecca Haughey said.

Her husband agreed, adding that he was glad to help facilitate positive change.

“It’s just nice to come back and give back,” Andrew Haughey noted. “It feels good to be here.”

Burger explained that he hopes that Saturday’s barn raising will help others see the importance of giving back to their community in tangible ways.

“It’s easy to write a check, but it’s more engaging and challenging to bring people together, to work together,” Burger said. “I hope this inspires people to do something big or small, whatever they’re able to.”

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