IBEW 1837 Members Paddle Kayaks to Help Disabled Kids and Adults

August 25, 2008 - Every year on the first Saturday in June, Darrell Buzzell and his wife Carole help lead people down the Kennebec River while raising money for disabled children and adults to attend summer camp here in Maine. “Twelve years ago, Carole and I started kayaking the Kennebec with a handful of friends to raise money for Pine Tree Society,” said Darrell. “Little did we know that twelve years later we would have over 200 boaters including people with disabilities.”

Since 1945, Pine Tree Camp on North Pond in Rome, Maine has offered children and adults with disabilities an incredible summer camp experience. The camp includes everything you could dream of in a summer camp including swimming, fishing, boating, music and arts & crafts — all on a 280-acre facility specially adapted to meet their needs. For many of these special campers, their annual visit to Pine Tree Camp or the Camp Pine Cone day camp is something that they look forward to all year long.

“The money raised goes for people who can’t afford to go to camp,” Darrell said. “Nobody is turned away because they can’t afford to go.”

From a modest but very respectable start of raising around $3,000 in their first year, this year’s “Paddle for Pine Tree Camp” has raised over $40,000 and the money is still coming in! Other IBEW members who have been active in the Paddle for Pine Tree Camp include Jim MacMichael, a Service Journeyman for CMP in the Skowhegan area, and Amy Bouchard, a CMP Line Clerk in Farmington. Brother MacMichael and Sister Bouchard have also involved their families in the fun!

As a CMP Service Worker in the Skowhegan area, Brother Buzzell recognizes that there are other lessons to be learned every year during this wonderful event. “We always stress safety. Safety and river awareness are our #1 concern,” said Darrell. “We had 200 people and all 200 had life jackets on!”

Brother Buzzell wanted to make sure that this story for The Current concentrated on Pine Tree Camp — not him. But the people at the Pine Tree Society positively gush when talking about what Darrell and Carole have accomplished.

“The Buzzells are wonderful people with huge hearts. It is a pleasure and honor to work with them on the annual Paddle for Pine Tree Camp,” said Pine Tree Society’s Kristina L. Therrien  “While planning the annual fundraiser, he is always professional, kind, enthusiastic and has a great sense of humor. It takes a pretty amazing person to start a fundraiser with only 10 people and to create it into what it is now, with over 250 participants.”

Click here to learn more about Pine Tree Camp.

This story was originally printed in the Summer 2008 edition of The Current, IBEW 1837's quarterly newsletter.