Hitting a bull’s-eye for the first time is a thrill.

“The first time a camper hit’s a bull’s-eye at our archery pavilion is a great feeling for everyone,” said Mary Schafhauser, assistant director of Pine Tree Camp. “It’s awesome!”

This summer, thanks to a grant from the Waterville Area Women’s Club, Pine Tree Camp built a fully accessible, covered archery pavilion with three lanes; including moveable targets, railings, seating and storage space. The covered pavilion is ramp accessible and provides shade on hot days and protection from rain during inclement weather.

“It was a game changer to have a set structure with a roof during Adventure Day Pass this summer,” Mary continued.  “It became an attraction. One Adventure Day pass camper got so good, he wanted to compete against staff every time he came.”

When the Waterville Area Women’s Club was approached by Pine Tree Camp to partner with them on the archery pavilion, they saw it as an opportunity to complete a project that would have immediate impact.

“Rather than have campers wait for years for this opportunity, we wanted to complete the whole project for them immediately,” said Helen Bell-Necevski, executive director of the Waterville Area Women’s Club. “It’s been nice to see the archery program grow and know that the pavilion was fully utilized this summer and families had the chance to create memories together and just have pure fun.”

For Helen, the Waterville Area Women’s Club Archery Pavilion not only helps Maine children withdisabilities try something new and develop independence, it helps parents have the break they need as well.

“Our mission is women and children based,” she continued.  “When you help a child, you’re helping a mom and dad too.”

To ensure physical distancing, just one family at a time was allowed in the archery pavilion and the camper and their entire family had the chance to learn to shoot; turning it into an activity everyone could enjoy together.

Pine Tree Camp staff is committed to adapting every activity to allow full participation, and archery is no exception. Based on an individual’s abilities, staff helps adjust how the bow is held, guides how to notch the arrow or pull the bow.

“We do whatever it takes to help a camper be successful,” Mary concluded.

This winter, Mary will further advance this program by becoming a certified archery instructor.  This rigorous training will allow her to train others as well.

“Not only will our staff be certified, they will gain extensive experience adapting archery for people of all abilities,” she concluded.

Archery is one of dozens of specialized recreational activities available on Pine Tree Camp’s 285-acre barrier free campus; allowing Maine people with disabilities fully accessible access to the outdoors.


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