PPCS is a 503(c) nonprofit organization of people whose common interests are
canoeing, kayaking, and other related outdoor activities. Members are
found throughout New England but have been primarily drawn from the
Penobscot River drainage in central Maine. Through its activities, the
Society tries to promote communication among paddlers, paddling instruction,
river safety, and conservation. The Society establishes an annual schedule of
day and weekend paddling trips and sometimes also hiking and cross-country ski
Membership in PPCS is open to any individual or family who subscribes to its purposes and pays the annual dues of $20.00 per year ($10.00 per year for high school and college students).
PPCS publishes an annual trip and membership booklet. Newsletters are also published four to six times a year. The Society has three regularly scheduled meetings each year: the Fall Committee of Cooks Meeting, the Fall Supper and the Summer Picnic. The general election of officers (the Committee of Cooks) is held at the Fall Supper. Other meetings of the COC are held periodically as needed and are open to all members.
THE BIG THREE-O (plus one, more or less)
A celebratory mood prevailed at the Committee of Cooks' fall '98 meeting. The Big Three-0? Let's celebrate in '99! PPCS was first conceived in '68, the first big meeting was in '69, so when should we celebrate? Bill Stearns says, "Let's not let details get in the way of a party. What's a year, give or take? If the world can celebrate the coming of the new millennium a year before the old one ends, we can celebrate PPCS's 30th in 1999"
The BDN [Bangor Daily News] reported on January 30, 1969: "At a meeting held at the News Auditorium Wednesday night with 58 in attendance, the Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society was organized. The club will be a family-oriented group." Coverage went on to say that a film of world championship 1963 white water slalom in Austria was shown and that officers were elected: Bill Stearns, president; Wayne Gilman, v.p.; Earl Baldwin, secretary; Mark Boyd, treasurer; Dana Devoe, membership; Ed Colburn, publicity; Lew Gilman, competition.
Months before that first general meeting Bill and Earl attended a family oriented race weekend on the Androscoggin River in N.H. organized by a strong N.H.-based canoe club. They returned to Maine with a conviction that the Bangor area was ripe for its own club, met with a dozen or so active area paddlers who spread the word, and PPCS was born.
A few months later, Bill was a guest of the N.H. club on a trip down Maine's Lower Dead River, from Big Eddy (just below Flagstaff Dam) to The Forks. Bill loved the trip, organized some PPCS trips on the Dead, and proceeded to keep warm on numerous cold winter nights in '68 - '69 asking himself (and his wife), "Could we run a race on the Dead?"
Despite a lack of road access (a safety concern), a very long shuttle (80 miles) and the distance from PPCS's Bangor area base, PPCS decided to sponsor a race on the Dead.
After much planning, the first Dead River Race was held in the summer of 1970, the first National WW Open Championship in modern times, sanctioned by the ACA and USCA.
For several years competition was a focus of PPCS, but gradually other groups such as MACRO took over the planning of races, although individual PPCS members continue to be involved. After a few years on the Dead, National WWO Championship Races started rotating around other states, returning to the Dead periodically. In 2000, it may be the Dead's turn again.
Early on PPCS members found time in off seasons to gather for meals. For a few years it was a custom to have a chowder meal at least once a year (to justify the society's name, you know). One year, preparations for one such meal, clam chowder, were made at the home of then club members Walter and Carol Abbott. (Did you know that Walter's first exposure to real canoeing was on a PPCS trip? After that trip he remarked, "Where has this been all my life?" He proceeded to pursue the sport, developed a UM white water course, and became UM's canoeing instructor extraordinary.) At the Abbots' we were using canned clams, following someone's recipe which said the necks should be removed. After a few hours of that SLIMY work, Carol exclaimed, "I wish Bill had named this the Penobscot Paddle and Banana Split Society!" The name hasn't changed but the nature of the meals has - we tend to have potlucks now. Warning to newcomers: If Walter ever comes back to a PPCS potluck, get ahead of him in line - he brings a platter!
So - let's celebrate, all year. Each newsletter will have an excerpt from an old newsletter and profiles of the 2nd, 3rd, etc, past presidents. Let's all make an effort to invite some former member or two to fall potluck. I'll bring a chowder for old time's sake.