Welcome to MRO! As you walk the shores of Heald pond, and the wilderness of our corner of Maine, you join in a long line of extraordinary people who have been shaped by this place. Of course, you are among the 700 or so people ever to have been campers at Moose River Outpost, and this alone is a privileged group, but our history is rich with examples of the power of this place reaching back far beyond the founding of our camp.
As recently as 20 years ago, this property was used by Ken Olsen, CEO of Digital Equipment as a corporate and personal retreat. Moose Hall was full of rocking chairs (two of which still sit in our Welcome Center) where he and his coworkers would collaborate, think in the quiet of the woods, and develop new ideas. Many of those ideas may have shaped the early days of computing. The groups would come and go from a helicopter pad located just above what is now our swimming area. Mr. Olsen found quiet here and in that quiet he found clarity. Campers, may you find this place quiet enough to hear your thoughts and shape your dreams.
Reaching back much further, before the founding of our camp, the founding of our town, or even the founding of our country, Colonel Benedict Arnold marched 1,100 men through the wilderness of Maine toward Quebec City in an effort to wrench the city from the British during the Revolutionary War. At the time, Arnold was still considered a hero and one of the strongest American leaders in the war. The expedition took months of work, involved dragging heavy, wooden boats directly up Skowhegan falls, building roads through thickly forrested wilderness, and surviving nightly temperatures well below zero almost constantly. The group passed directly by, or perhaps even through the MRO property on their way north, and many records indicate that this area was the most difficult to pass given its combination of mountainous terrain and wet lowlands. After traveling nearly 350 miles, their now rag-tag group arrived in Quebec in spring. While their attack on Quebec eventually failed, their journey was an historic accomplishment. From their origin in Cambridge Massachusetts, the trip had looked impossible, but one step at a time they reached their goal. Campers, may you work hard and accomplish things here you never thought possible.
Ephriam Heald, the Maine historic character after whom our pond has been named is considered by history books to be “the Daniel Boone of Maine.” He walked trap lines in these woods during the days of the French and Indian War. Among his great adventures were encounters with snowstorms, tall mountains, rushing rivers, and long walks in the wilderness. In one local legend he even escaped attack by two hostile Abenacki warriors when he tripped on a root, causing their thrown tomahawks to miss him as they flew just over his head. Campers, may you have adventures here, and may the stories of them never wear out (but don’t worry mom and dad, we’ll keep those adventures free from death-defying stunts).
Now, these things still happen. Every year, people accomplish lofty personal goals, they trek lightly warn paths, they shape dreams for the future, and develop stories they’ll tell for the rest of their lives. This is a special place. Not just for its history but because its story is still being written. Welcome, campers, into that story. As a part of the MRO family, may you grow here, learn here, laugh here, and have the time of your life in the Maine woods.