Two miles off the coast of Harpswell, in beautiful Casco Bay, lies Eagle Island, the summer home of Admiral Robert E. Peary, America's foremost explorer, and the discoverer of the North Pole. This unique property is a Maine Historic Site administered by the bureau of Parks and Lands, and has recently been designated as a National Historic Landmark. Although the state is responsible for maintenance and day to day operations, much of the preservation work and operation is carried out by the non profit group, The Friends of Peary's Eagle Island, who are the sponsors of the Docent Program.
"What is a docent?" you may ask. A docent is a guide, but at Eagle Island we strive to go beyond that simple definition. Docents are the ambassadors of the island, and we work very hard at making a visit to Eagle Island as informative and enjoyable as possible for each visitor. Last season, over 4000 people visited the island, and were met by one or more docents who shared the history of the island, Admiral Peary, and the unique home he built there--now a museum open daily to the public.
A typical docent day begins at Dolphin Marina in Harpswell where we are met by the Park Ranger for the twenty minute boat ride to the island. We bring everything we will need for the day -- lunch, water, a book (in case the day is slow), and warm clothing (the weather can change quickly in Casco Bay) -- because once there, we are there for the day until the ranger brings us back to Dolphin at 5:00 pm. At the island, one docent will work the Visitor's Center, showing the introductory video, handing out the tour wands, answering questions, and selling souvenir items at the Trading Post. Another docent works in the museum, answering questions, managing traffic flow through the house, demonstrating Admiral Peary's player piano, and sharing anecdotes about the house, the Admiral and the Peary family. On weekends, a third docent is present to work where needed. Some days are slow, with only a few visitors, some days we have to scramble to even find time to eat lunch, but all days are fun and rewarding experiences. And each day, slow or harried, we enjoy the breathtaking scenery, the smell of salt air, and the sound of surf and seagulls as a backdrop to the important work we are doing.
We have 35-40 volunteers in the program, some working only three or four days per season, others signed up for a regular day each week. The time commitment is pretty much a matter of individual preference. Each year, for various reasons, we lose people from the program, so we are constantly recruiting for new volunteers to join us.
Do you need to be a history buff or an expert on Arctic exploration to be a docent at Eagle Island? No, not at all. We provide training materials, and always schedule new docents with veterans, from whom a great deal can be learned. We have people involved from a wide variety of backgrounds and of various ages. Being a docent at Eagle Island is a unique opportunity for a fun and rewarding volunteer experience. If you are interested in becoming a docent, please contact the website with your name and contact information which will be forwarded to the program coordinators.
Ok we might not make you mow the lawn but there are many ways to contribute to Eagle Island. Maybe you have a special talent or interest to share. We welcome all to become a docent. We provided training, information, a free boat ride to and fro the island and a guaranteed good time. Try it it's fun.
Master Stone Mason John Cornish from Cornish Stoneworks volunteered his time and knowledge to help the friends build this stone wall along the handicap entrance to the Welcome Center. John showed us all how true craftsmanship can add beauty to a project. email@example.com phone 207-737-2120