Sunrise over Katahdin Lake in August. PHOTO COURTESY OF OLIVER JOHNSTON

Johnston shares experience with youth wilderness program

Oliver Johnston, a junior at Mount Desert Island High School, when he was on a Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership backpacking trip.

BAR HARBOR — Mount Desert Island High School junior Oliver Johnston participated in the free, nine-day Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program (MYWLP) backpacking trip in Baxter State Park in August and is encouraging others to consider applying to the program.

“A big concern around youth these days is that we don’t get outside enough,” Johnston said. “The MYWLP is a fantastic opportunity to forget your phone and enjoy the great Maine outdoors.”

The Friends of Baxter and the Chewonki Foundation collaborate to offer the trip for 10 Maine high schoolers, five girls and five boys. The trip takes place in August of every year and is for incoming juniors and seniors.

Johnston said he made new friends and enjoyed immersing himself in what Baxter has to offer. “Over the course of the nine days, we moved from South Branch Pond to Russell Pond to Roaring Brook,” he said. “At each campsite, we’d stay two or three nights, and on the last day, we went up Katahdin. On days that we weren’t backpacking, we worked with a nature journalist, a geologist, two park rangers, a storyteller and former chief of the Penobscot Nation Barry Dana and his wife, Lori.

“The whole experience was amazing,” Johnston said. “My whole life, I’ve grown up in this spectacular national park that I sometimes take for granted. Going to Baxter helped me better appreciate the beauty of Maine, including here on MDI. I encourage anyone who has interest to apply.”

Other past participants from MDI include Addie Beal, Will Greene, Lily Anderson and Jake Ressel.

Applications for the August 2018 program are due in early February. Visit the Friends of Baxter State Park website or contact Johnston at [email protected]

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