SKOWHEGAN, Maine — What started more than 20 years ago as an experiment or even a gamble has turned into a place that serves communities within a 50-mile radius of the Skowhegan and Canaan park. Each year approximately 20,000 people visit Lake George Regional Park, utilizing the swimming areas, picnic areas, the extensive trail system, boat launch and various buildings on the 300 plus acre park.
Built on a model of stewardship and service learning, it only made sense to return to that mission when the park hired Derek Ellis to be the new park manager. Driven by the need to grow volunteers to help return to its service-learning portion of the parks mission and be able to chart the next 20 years.
So already this summer and fall the park has re-established relationships with schools, scouts and worked to build new connections with youth and adults. “We are focused on job training and job shadowing. We will be doing service learning connected to the park on site and at the schools,” said Park Director Jeff McCabe in a press release.
As stewards of the park the staff handles the day-to-day management complimented by volunteers, students and those entered into job training programs. This fall students from Corbin Academy, Athens School, Skowhegan Career and Technical Center, Skowhegan High and Middle school have all assisted the park. While some have done racking, trail work and building a bridge. Some have contributed to fundraising efforts, including most recently Students from the Skowhegan Junior High built a set of Adirondack Chairs to donate to the park auction. At the same time, high students are putting a final coat of polyurethane on a beautiful hand built cedar strip canoe at The Career and Technical Center.
Those interested in bidding on the chairs or canoe can attend the annual fall auction and spaghetti supper 5-8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Skowhegan Recreation Center. Live auction at 7 p.m.; dinner at 5 p.m.
The park established in 1992 and owned by the State of Maine, LGRP is leased by the towns of Skowhegan and Canaan and managed by the Lake George Corp., a non profit, 501(c)3. LGRP receives no funding from the State of Maine and relies on contributions from businesses, individual donors, program and gate fees to support operating costs from year to year.
The park is also a destination for school groups, boy scouts and girl scouts outings, and other service learning organizations. During the summer, the park hosts Camp Podooc for over 200 Skowhegan and Canaan children, offering a nature, arts camp and swimming lessons