UM 4-H camps and learning centers welcome new board members

Tue, 12/08/2020 - 9:30pm

    Two women with strong ties to Tanglewood and Blueberry Cove have joined the board that oversees both camps. Anne Stires and Lily Hyde Sytsma are both educators and former camp counselors. They bring to the board a shared belief in the value of children learning outdoors, together, understanding and respecting the natural environment that sustains us and all life.

    In 2011, Stires founded Juniper Hill School for Place-Based Education in Alna, which features nature- and place-based education for students ages 3-11 and functions as a demonstration school for visiting educators.

    Stires was the Executive Director since its founding and has been a classroom teacher at the school; she is now the Director of Development, Outreach, and Advocacy and consults throughout Maine and beyond to support schools as they pivot to outdoor learning models. 

    A graduate of Hamilton College, she also holds a master's degree from Antioch University New England, where she teaches graduate courses as an Affiliate Faculty member. A classroom teacher in various schools, she has also worked at the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center, Chewonki Foundation, Quebec-Labrador Foundation, and Tanglewood.

    Stires grew up on Westport Island, where her retired-teacher parents still live. She is a dancer and skier, with “an abiding love for the ocean and the Maine coast.” For the past 20 summers, she has directed the Whitehead Island program for Pine Island Camp. She lives in Alna with her son, Eben, 14, a fisherman, hunter, skier and history buff who attends North Yarmouth Academy.

    Sytsma is daughter of Ann Cogger and the late Leslie Hyde.

    Les Hyde was pivotal in creating the Tanglewood camp programs in Lincolnville, and led the successful effort to acquire Blueberry Cove in Tenants Harbor, assuring it would remain a children’s camp. Both 4-H camps are administered through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, providing affordable camp experiences for all.

    Lily Hyde Sytsma has taught photography, drawing and painting at Oceanside High School in Rockland since 2016. Her vision is to create a curriculum that accepts diversity, prepares students for college and fosters a life-long appreciation for the arts, she said.

    Sytsma, who grew up in Tenants Harbor, attended Tanglewood Camp from 1991 to 2003, after which she became a counselor there.

    She was also a camper at Blueberry Cove in the early 1990s, when former owner-director Ann Goldsmith operated a family camp. In 2008, as a U.S. Certified Sailing Instructor, she was one of the first counselors to work for Blueberry Cove after her father and others revived the camp.“Every August, as a child, we had a family sailing trip. Mom, dad, (brother) Andrew and I would pack up Alice, our 14-foot cat boat, with sleeping bags, tents and coolers. We sailed all over Penobscot Bay, as far as Isle au Haut. These childhood memories I will cherish forever in my heart. Memories are the foundation of our own personal spirit. Land conservation empowers our community, enabling stewardship of the environment,” Sytsma said.

    She and husband Eric live in Martinsville (St.George) with their two children, William and Lucas, their dog Magic, and Max the cat. William is a third grader at St. George Elementary School and a regular camper at Blueberry Cove.

    For more information on the camps, visit