MOUNT DESERT — A new group called Downeast Rowing, along with Camp Beech Cliff, is starting a club with the purpose of getting rowers of all skill levels out on the waters of Mount Desert Island.
Charles Wray, founder of Downeast Rowing, has secured the donation of four boats, two 45-foot-long coxed fours, a type of racing shell used in competitive rowing, and two 27-foot-long single boats, to be housed at the landing of Camp Beech Cliff on Echo Lake.
“The goal is to offer rowing to both the community but also, importantly, to the Camp Beech Cliff campers, the older campers,” Wray said. “Beech Cliff has kindly offered to put the boats, as a pilot, on their campus and use their waterfront.”
The plan is for Camp Beech Cliff to use the equipment during camp hours, while giving access to community rowers during off-hours.
“It’s a true community effort between the two programs,” Wray said.
The two coxed fours, which can carry up to four people including a coxswain, were acquired from a school outside Boston.
The two singles are coming from Wray himself.
Oars were bought from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and transferred to the island with the help of Bates College in Lewiston.
Wray said he thinks the most exciting thing about the rowing club is that it appeals to people of all ages, although it’s not yet popular enough to have widespread involvement.
“It’s a great lifetime sport for adults and children,” he said. “It’s a growing NCAA sport. It’s an Olympic sport … but it’s a fairly unknown sport.”
Wray said his end goal is to have a place where everyone in the community can come and row.
“The dream is that someday, either with Camp Beech Cliff or not, there’d be a community boathouse to store these boats, with a dock,” he said, “on either Echo Lake” or elsewhere.
Camp Beech Cliff credits Wray with getting the group off the ground and said that his efforts are supported wholly by many in the community.
“It was a really kind donation that Charlie Wray spearheaded,” said Debra Deal, Camp Beech Cliff executive director. “There’s a whole kind of community of rowers that want to see this happen.”
Wray said the group is accepting donations from community members for rowing equipment.
“We would love to get donations from the community,” he said. “They could include boats. They could include resources for a proper dock or a permanent location.”
Interested parties can contact Wray at firstname.lastname@example.org.