The Teen Wilderness Expedition: Discovering what Piscataquis County has to Offer

Despite Maine’s enormous natural beauty – from woods to lakes to coast – not all kids get outside. One organization, in conjunction with the Appalachian Mountain Club, is trying to change that.

The Piscataquis Soil and Water Conservation District, based in Dover-Foxcroft, will offer its Teen Wilderness Expedition to kids aged 12-16 this summer. The program, launched four years ago thanks to a Maine Community Foundation grant, takes participants into the Maine woods for three days and two nights. The hope, says Educational Coordinator Kacey Weber, is to impart an appreciation for Maine’s outdoors, and maybe even plant the seed for career ideas campers hadn’t previously considered.

“We strive to connect youth to the outdoors in meaningful ways,” Weber says. “The idea is to get kids outdoors and get them engaged outside.”

Weber says the program is designed to expose participants to the broad variety of possible outdoor activities. Over the three days, July 11-13, participants will hike, learn to fly fish, even make tie-dye t-shirts with natural dye. They will also enjoy leadership skills-building exercises, and have plenty of time to relax.

“We get them thinking about the natural world,” Weber says.

The collaboration between the Piscataquis Soil and Water Conservation District and the AMC also gives participants a chance to learn about potential career options. In past years, naturalists, foresters, and artists have all offered kids their insights.

“The gist of it is to get [participants’] interest piqued,” Weber says. “We’re building future stewards of our environment.”

This year’s program will take 25 kids northeast of Greenville, to Second Roach Pond and the AMC’s Medawisla Lodge, a brand-new AMC hut. The lodge is opening in July, and is located seven miles from Kokadjo.

“Everyone is encouraged to try everything we put together,” Weber says.

Because the program often has repeat participants, the program has differed each year, Weber says. The program is currently about half-full, she says. The registration fee, which varies depending on whether participants are from Piscataquis County, covers the full cost of the program, including all gear, lodging at the hut and all meals and snacks. To learn more, participants and their families are encouraged to visit the Piscataquis Soil and Water Conservation District’s website at or call Weber directly at 207-564-2321 X 3. The registration deadline is June 23.

“It’s really an amazing program,” Weber says. And it teaches kids what their backyard has to offer, she says. Scholarship assistance is available, she says.

The Teen Wilderness Expedition, thanks to the efforts of the Conservation District and the professionals at the Appalachian Mountain Club, is another example of the many opportunities throughout the State for youngsters to appreciate Maine’s outdoors this summer. From fishing to kayaking to enjoying delicious fare at the newly opened lodge, kids have the chance to connect with each other and nature. It’s a three-day experience that could open a whole new world.

Kristine Millard

About Kristine Millard

Kristine Snow Millard is a free-lance writer from Portland and a fan of all things summer, including camp. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of New Hampshire, a master’s degree (communications) and a law degree from Boston University, and, most recently, earned an MFA in creative writing from the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. She is currently helping to edit The Art of Outdoor Living, a guidebook used for Junior Maine Guide candidates, and is a regular contributor to the Maine Summer Camps newsletter. She has also contributed to the American Camp Association New England newsletter. Kris has written regularly for Maine Women and My Generation, both publications of Current Publishing. She has written features for the Maine Sunday Telegram, and is also a free-lance grant writer. A parent, she is also deeply committed to the subject of emotional wellness, and has seen how camp can foster whole and healthy kids. She is working on a memoir about living with clinical depression, and an essay she has written on that topic is forthcoming in an anthology to be published by Talking Writing, an on-line literary magazine.