AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine families who have never been camping will get a chance, starting April 1, to win an all-inclusive camping weekend in the woods provided by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.
The BPL, a division of the Maine Department of Conservation, is offering 32 families a camping weekend. The program is offered in conjunction with “Take It Outside!” — Gov. John Baldacci’s initiative to encourage children and families to enjoy the outdoors together.
The winning families will receive: a two-night reservation at their chosen state park; a set of camping equipment to use for the weekend, courtesy of L.L. Bean and Coleman; a $50 gift card from Hannaford; coupons from Oakhurst Dairy; coffee from Wicked Joe, and Poland Spring water.
“Our ‘First-Time Campers’ program last year was an unqualified success,” Patrick McGowan, MDOC commissioner, said. “There’s nothing I like better than seeing Maine folks discover the wonders of our outstanding public lands. I’m sure the families chosen this year will create some terrific memories together and also will get addicted to the joy of being outdoors.”
Will Harris, BPL director said, “Camping is a great way for families to have fun together. We hope those families who have always wanted to camp but haven’t had the equipment or skills to do so on their own will enjoy the experience and camp at our state parks again.”
Gary Best, BPL interpretive specialist who organizes the program, said about 700 families registered last year for the camping slots. He pointed out that 50 percent of last year’s First-Time Camper families said they would not have tried camping without the program. All of them, he said, reported that they will go camping again.
“It went fantastically,” the park specialist said. “People really enjoyed themselves.”
Best said he was expecting even more registrants this year as word about the contest is getting out and the program is starting earlier this season.
“We are really looking forward to the second season of First-Time Campers,” he said. “We are hoping for similar results this year.”
Last year, more than 2.2 million people visited Maine’s 47 state parks and historic sites. Camping is allowed at 12 of the parks. This year, the contest will focus on eight state parks that represent geographically “a campground in everyone’s back yard,” Best said.
A number of the parks last year also held special activities for the new campers, including interpretive nature walks and canoe and fishing instruction. Best said he expected there would again be planned events.
This program is intended for first-time campers and is offered to Maine residents only.
The weekends, which fall in prime camping time, are: July 10-12, July 17-19, July 24-26 and July 31-Aug. 2.
The parks are: Aroostook, Lamoine, Lily Bay, Camden Hills, Cobscook Bay, Peaks-Kenny, Mt. Blue, and Rangeley Lake State Parks.
The contest begins April 1 and continues through May 31. The winners will be selected in a random drawing on June 8.
Visit www.take-it-outside.com for a complete set of contest rules and an online entry form.
State seeking lifeguards
The BPL is looking for a few good … lifeguards.
Candidates still are needed to fill vacant positions at a number of state parks around Maine, according to BPL officials.
“Lifeguards are important to assuring the safety of park visitors at all our state parks with beaches,” Will Harris, BPL director, said Thursday. “We want everyone to have a safe, enjoyable experience at all our beaches.”
“We are looking for candidates who are capable and qualified and have the maturity to handle a highly responsible job,” Brian Murray, BPL lifeguard coordinator, said. “We regard these positions as very important ones, and we want the best people for them.”
More than 2.2 million people annually visit Maine’s 47 state parks and historic sites. Twenty parks allow swimming, though not all of them have lifeguards. The BPL regularly has 40 lifeguards staffing 11 state parks.
“We’re still looking for lifeguard candidates for specific parks,” Murray said.
Qualifications for the lifeguard position are stringent. Candidates must have a current lifeguard certificate and be certified in first aid and CPR. They also must do a 500-meter swim in under 10 minutes and run 1 mile under 12 minutes. In addition, they must be at least 18 years old, though 17-year-olds may be accepted.
Candidates will undergo a paid, one-day Lifeguard Academy during their first week of work. The academy will be held at Range Ponds State Park in Poland, Murray said.
The early call for candidates allows those who are considering applying to have time still to take a lifeguard course at a local Y or at local colleges and community pools, the coordinator said.
The 40-hours-per-week, seasonal job pays $10.43 an hour and will start in early June, Murray said.
Anyone interested in applying can contact Murray at (207) 389-1335 or contact the park manager at the state park at which they are interested in working.
More information is available at: http://www.maine.gov/doc/jobs/Lifeguard.shtml
To submit an item for publication in the Outdoor Notebook, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax to 990-8092 or mail information to Outdoor Notebook, Bangor Daily News, PO Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402-1329.