The Rotary Club of Damariscotta-Newcastle joined again this year with Kieve-Wavus Education Inc. to host the “Friends Forever” visit  in Mid-Coast Maine from Oct. 19 through Nov. 2.  The  group presented programs or were involved with activities hosted by the Bath, Boothbay Harbor, Damariscotta-Newcastle, Brunswick/Brunswick Coastal, Portland and Falmouth Rotary Clubs. 

The Friends Forever USA Inc. program, in existence since 1986 with over 1,600 graduates, this year brought 5 Protestant and 5 Catholic teens from Belfast, Northern Ireland, into the area for two weeks at Camp Kieve in Nobleboro, Me., placed into a carefully structured psychological “life raft”: housed together, transported in a single van, and equally “adrift” in an unfamiliar culture, teens that are “enemies” at home with nowhere to turn but to each other. The goal is that they became like brothers and sisters and teach their peers at home about peaceful coexistence once they return. Each teen signs a contract to continue for 18 months their efforts as a team at building peace upon their return home. The group consists of ten teens (14-17 year olds, six girls and four boys) and four adult chaperon/group leaders; two from Belfast, Northern Ireland and two Friends Forever USA staff members.

The young leaders visited Lincoln Academy in Newcastle for two days, spent an evening for a meal in area family homes with teenagers, and worked alongside Rotarians in community service projects at the Oceanswide Inc. Headquarters in Newcastle Me., at  Coastal Kids School in Damariscotta and with the local YMCA.  They were hosted by the St. Patrick’s Catholic Senior Youth Ministry group  the first Sunday and  hosted by the Second Congregational Church of Newcastle Youth Ministry group for Services the following Sunday. The group was feted at a Friday night Community/Teen dinner on Nov. 1st at St. Patrick’s Church in Newcastle, Maine. The group bonded in a wonderful manner over the two week period through their experiences and we hope that Rotary Clubs in Maine can raise the $25,000 needed to return the program to the Mid Coast area next year!