Friday, July 31, 2009

Local Boy Scouts Trek
Though New Mexico Wilderness

A group of Boy Scouts from Berwick and their leaders went on a life changing, 10 day, summer trek through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico at the Philmont Scout Ranch. Philmont covers 214 square miles of vast wilderness in which Boy Scout Crew #625-Y2 explored while hiking over 65 miles of trails.
The 8 boys and their adult advisors carried everything they needed to survive during the trek on their backs, while hiking from camp to camp. The Scouts participated in back country activities including rock climbing, rifle shooting, western lore, and blacksmithing. The trek included a conservation project where the Scouts participated in the up-keep of Philmont’s hiking trails.
Along the trek the Scouts endured challenges, such as a nine-hour hike up and down Black Mountain, at nearly 11,000 feet above sea level. With low oxygen levels, and some scouts with blistered feet, it was far more challenging than hikes on the seacoast of Maine. A hail storm on the Tooth of Time Mountain ridge pelted the boys with hail the size of marbles, and forced them to recognize the value of protection against the elements. Other exciting moments included a bear running through their camp during dinner and a rattlesnake on the trail.
“They may meet only one other group of scouts on the trail in an entire day of hiking,” according to Backpacker Magazine. ”Even in the most crowded camps, each scout group is in isolation, out of sight and sound of all other groups.’’
“As an adult advisor, we were there to follow the boys and make sure they did not get into trouble,” says Drew Conroy. “The greatest reward was seeing the boys lead themselves, direct all camp, cooking, and hiking activities, as well as navigate their way through the wilderness using their map and compass.”
Scoutmaster Rick Raynes, also an adult advisor on the trek, added “This experience will remain with these boys forever. They may not know it now, but this has changed them. Hopefully, as they enter into adulthood, they will realize that they accomplished something really amazing. They survived for 10 days in the mountains of northern New Mexico with just gear they carried on their backs. They climbed to mountain peaks that they thought they were never going to get to. They continued to hike mile after mile when they thought they couldn’t go any further. They protected themselves against severe weather and wild animals. But the one thing I think they did best was to work as a team. They encouraged each other when things got tough, shared burdens when things got heavy, and respected each other as individual members of one crew, knowing it would take a collective effort to make it – and they did!”
The boys from Berwick and a few other Maine communities made what amounts to a Scouting pilgrimage with their trip to Philmont. Philmont Scout Ranch is one of the Boy Scouts of America’s premier high adventure camps and largest youth camp in the world serving 22,000 participants every summer. Article by Ross Conroy, Star Scout, Berwick, Maine Troop 313.
Photo caption: Boy Scouts from Berwick completed a trip this summer to the mountains of New Mexico (Courtesy photo)

Revolutionary War Encampment,
Tall Ships at Fort McClary

Step back in time to view the Tall Ships sail into Portsmouth Harbor from historic Fort McClary on Pepperrell Road (Rt. 103) in Kittery Point on Friday, Aug. 7. With a commanding view of the harbor and the mouth of the Piscataqua River, you can watch the Parade of Sails with local boats organize on the horizon at 9:30 a.m. to accompany the U.S. Eagle, the Kalmer Nyckel, the Spirit of South Carolina and the Spirit of Massachusetts as they sail into the harbor and make the turn up to go up the river to Portsmouth.
The Friends of Fort McClary will open the gates at Fort McClary State Historic Site and Park at 8:30 a.m. Additional parking is available on the picnic side of the park and the Block House will be open. The regular admission fee to the State Park is $2 for State residents and $3 for nonresidents age 12 to 64, $1 for children age 5 to 11. Under age 5 and 65+ are free.
A living history presentation of a Revolutionary War encampment with the Royal Irish Artillery Company, Drake’s Artillery and the Frigate Raleigh Gun Crew will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 8 and 9, at Fort McClary State Historical Site and Park, Pepperrell Road (Rt. 103) in Kittery Point, Maine. This event coincides with the arrival and departure of the visit of the Tall Ships to Portsmouth on Aug. 7 and 9.
Sponsored by the Friends of Fort McClary, Park gates will be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. both days. Only regular State Park admission fees will be charged. For State residents age 12 to 64: $2 and non-State residents: $3. Children age 5-11: $1. Under age 5 and 65+ are free. Additional parking is available on the picnic side of the Park.
In 1715, the Colony of Massachusetts Bay approved the erection of a permanent breastwork of six guns for the defense of the Piscataqua River on the current site. Around 1720, a fort was built and named Fort William, in honor Sir William Pepperrell, a wealthy and prominent resident and landowner in Kittery Point who died in 1759. When the American Revolution broke out in 1775, the Pepperrell family remained loyal to the British Crown and all of their property, including the Fort, was confiscated by local citizens.
Because British war ships had destroyed or captured several towns along the Maine coast and were expected to attack Kittery and Portsmouth, there was intense excitement and great alarm and every effort was made to be ready for the coming enemy. The Fort was put in order and well garrisoned. Along with Fort Constitution (formerly Fort William and Mary) directly across the mouth of the river in Newcastle, the defense of the mouth of the Piscataqua River was so formidable that Kittery and Portsmouth were never attacked by the British.
Over the weekend encampment, the Royal Irish Artillery will have a full tent camp set up on the Upper Battery of the Fort next to the Block House. Participants will be in period uniforms and dress and will re-enact camp life, including a camp kitchen and cooking over a fire pit and period craft demonstrations. On the Lower Battery, a second tent camp will be occupied by Drake’s Artillery and the Frigate Raleigh Gun Crew. Artillery demonstrations will be conducted and cannons will be fired off, on the hour, throughout the day.
For more information, go to the Friends’ web site at or contact Steve Estes at 207-439-3479.

“Hi Mom, I’m Calling from Outer Space”

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
Parents often field telephone calls from their adult children and actually look forward to hearing from their kids after they’ve grown and left the house. Few parents, however, have experienced what York resident Janice Cassidy did on July 22 when her son Christopher called her. Christopher, you see, was calling from outer space. He is a member of the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s crew and is currently orbiting the globe.
“He said ‘hi mom,’ I’m calling from outer space,” Cassidy said. “He had done his first space walk and had a problem with his suit. He called to reassure us. The call was crystal clear.”
This is Christopher’s first time in space, after being accepted as an astronaut in 2004. Prior to that, he served as a Navy Seal. Janice said Christopher’s desire to get into space developed relatively recently.
“He hasn’t always dreamed about it,” she said. “He started thinking about it 10 to 12 years ago when he was a Navy Seal. He followed the course he thought best to do it and got his Master’s Degree. Almost all (the astronauts) have their Master’s. Some have doctorates.”
Janice said Chris’ decision to pursue a career in the military was not immediately obvious when he was a youngster, but there were indications. “His favorite toy growing up was a GI Joe,” she said. “We still have it in the attic. Chris said ‘don’t throw him out.’ When we went to the library he’d pick out records and his favorite were military marches. He’d play them and march around the house.”
The launch for this shuttle trip turned out to be a difficult process, with several delays. Janice traveled to Cape Canaveral to see the launch in person. “It was an incredible thing, amazing and very emotional” she said. “The launch had been postponed five times, three at the last moment. That was so disappointing for everybody. By the time it finally went off, I wasn’t nervous, just excited.”
Families of the crewmembers had a special vantage point for the launch, Janice said, about a half-mile away across a body of water, sitting in bleachers. “We were as close as anyone other than the workers,” she said. “One of the thrills was the families were treated to a special tour of the Kennedy Space Center (before the day of the launch). They took us right up to the gate. It was very interesting.”
Janice has been monitoring the flight closely. “He’s done three space walks,” she said. “I watch them on my computer. You can see as clear as anything and can see everything he’s doing. It’s amazing, especially when it’s your son.”
When not in outer space, Chris lives in Houston with his wife and three children. Chris has a younger brother, Jeffrey, who lives in Argentina currently. “He’s there for a couple of years,” Janice said. “He’s heading up the Argentinean office of a computer security company.”
Chris’ flight is expected to return to earth of July 31, but Janice has no plans to go back to Florida to witness the landing. “I’ll schedule a trip to Houston when he’s back and settled down,” she said. “There I can spend time and actually talk with him. I’ll be very interested to see what he has to say. In his emails, he says you can’t imagine how exciting and how much fun it is. Right now, I’m anxious to get them all home safe and sound.”
After five years as an astronaut, Chris hasn’t changed all that much, Janice said. “He is very down to earth,” she said. “He’s an honest and upstanding person, lots of fun, a great father, husband, and a great son.”
Photo caption: Janice Cassidy and her son Chris, an astronaut, at the Space Shuttle launch site at Cape Canaveral. (Courtesy photo)