In 1921, Harry Domincovich, a teacher at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia bought an old log cabin and other buildings on the shores of Craig Pond in East Orland, Maine. With his good friend and fellow teacher, A.A. Smith, organized and established FLYING MOOSE LODGE — a woods camp for boys.
At that time, Flying Moose Lodge was similar to many of the other camps of the era. Camping trips, "camp craft", swimming, and archery were some of the many activities in which the boys participated. Mr. Domi and Mr. Smith devised a unique schedule which is still followed today. All campers and counselors depart on trips on Tuesday morning and return Friday afternoon. The trips varied each week in destination and adventure.
Weekends were spent on the shores of Craig Pond where the whole group of boys and staff shared meals, slept in large six-person tents, swam together, held nightly campfire, worked together to publish a weekly newspaper recounting the trips of the previous week, played games in the surrounding woods and canoe games on the crystal-clear spring fed pond.
The size of the camp grew from about 20 campers in 1921 to a high of about 40 with 10-14 counselors.
The trips included many local ponds and rivers and a few far-away places like Baxter State Park (Mt. Katahdin) and the Allagash River.
In 1940, Mr. Domi retired and FML was purchased by Harrie B. Price, 3d, also a teacher and former camper and counselor. Harrie Price kept the flavor and the structure of the camp the same as it had been for 20 summers. As times changed and technology improved, trips were sent to places further from East Orland and the size of the camper population grew to 48.
With each growth in the numbers the buildings had to be enlarged, tent platforms added to the hillside and more canoes and camping gear purchased. Some of the buildings that were suitable for the early days had to be moved or razed and replaced.
However, throughout all the minor changes in the camp infrastructure, the trip program stayed the same because it worked well. Each week the boys worked on improving their skills and the techniques they learned earlier in the summer.
The wood-burning cook stove and water heater in the camp kitchen were retired in 1955 and replaced with a propane range. The old ice house was replaced (the ice cutter retired) with a building to house six old propane refrigerators. To this day there, is still no electricity or telephone.
As family dynamics and the world changed in the 1970s, the camp schedule changed from summers where nearly all campers attending for a full eight weeks, to summers where many enrolled for four-week sessions. This trend seems to continue today, although boys who come for the full summer certainly experience a more rounded camping season.
Harrie Price, 3d was a very talented man and took on many projects that ultimately worked for FML. He repaired most of the camp buildings, re-shingled most, built a new three-bedroom cabin and in it built a fieldstone fireplace. He designed and built the new post and beam Caboose in the mid-eighties. Harrie engineered and built a canoe form and produced many canoes before canoe building became a home hobby. Now, more than half the FML fleet of wood/canvas guide canoes are hand-built — a project we continue to do each summer. He also wrote a book recounting his 65 year relationship with Flying Moose Lodge: A BAD CASE OF MOOSEPOX (read it here).
Harrie 3 retired from camp directing in 1985 and Harrie B. Price, IV directed for ten summers. He developed a broader trip program incorporating more of The Appalachian Trail, Western Maine mountains and more river trips. Harrie IV bought some Old Town Trippers, sturdy Royalex canoes that allowed Flying Moose to send more river trips with the younger campers. The trucks were replaced with vans.
In 1994, Harrie IV died and his brother Christopher, with his wife Shelly, became camp directors. Over the past two decade Chris and Shelly have made many building improvements, most notably the restoration of the Lodge. They are in the process of replacing old tent platforms with new lean-to shelters. They designed and built a new Infirmary replacing a very tired structure. Some new and replacement structures are in the planning stages. More trips, a few which venture into New Hampshire and Vermont, have been developed.
Four directors later, old campers come back to Flying Moose and say with all honestly, "Nothing much has changed." — although so much has taken place to make it all better. Come add to the history!