Recycle, rebuild, reuse: Hatchery students craft picnic tables for Camden from discarded boardwalk

Thu, 07/06/2023 - 2:00pm

    CAMDEN – Three out of six new heavy-duty picnic tables are already getting much use at the Camden Public Landing, a good spot beside the harbor to have a meal, or just visit over a cup of coffee.

    They were not purchased by the town, but constructed with care by teams of Camden Hills Regional High School students using planks from the waterfront wharf boardwalk that was demolished last December during an ocean storm.

    Under the guidance of Hatchery Apprenticeship coordinator Danny Salomon, 23 students took on the project last spring, after more than 5,000 pounds of torn-up boardwalk was transported by Camden Public Works to the high school on Route 90 in Rockport.

    That sea-worn pressurized wood was diverted from the landfill, said Salomon, and “aligns with the Hatchery Workshop's commitment to, Radical Reuse, the sourcing materials from the region's waste stream, as opposed to buying new materials, whenever possible.”

    “During a meeting when we were talking about the wharf, Alison [Alison McKellar, Camden Select Board member] said, ‘try and save some of this wood for the Hatchery,” said Public Works Director Dave St. Laurent. “So when we took it apart, we put it into a truck and took it over there.”

    Students got to work pulling nails and cutting the rotten parts off before they began crafting the tables, and ultimately painting them a deep Maine spruce green.

    “Then we brought them back to be used by the town,” said St. Laurent.

    All together, the students made six tables, plus some chairs that are now outside the entrance to the front door of the high school.

    The three other picnic tables will be placed elsewhere in Camden, one at Curtis Park Overlook, the others at Marine Avenue access point and Steamboat Landing.


    “These picnic tables can be identified by their red markings, which highlight gouges from the de-nailing process. Similar to the Japanese technique, Kintsugi, we do this to celebrate the act of repair, rather than disguise it,” said Salomon. “The tables also have a QR code mounted to them that links to a website a few Hatchery students put together, which provides a visual narrative showing all the projects made with the former boardwalk material.”

    On Friday, June 30, the guys who took apart the wharf, Hatchery students, members of Camden’s Conservation Commission, the crew that built the new wharf, and other municipal staff and friends gathered for a lunch to inaugurate the picnic tables.

    This summer, Salomon is also piloting a Reclaim and Rebuild Paid Internship, executing small- to medium-scale home improvement and repair projects with students for local residents. They are helping those who, “are cost-burdened by housing, using predominantly salvaged materials, including lumber from Camden harbor's former boardwalk,” said Salomon.

    “Ultimately, these efforts hope to raise awareness about the many benefits of prioritizing deconstruction, and encourage our community to follow the lead of other cities taking steps toward making deconstruction the norm,” said Salomon.

    Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at; 207-706-6657