MATTAWAMKEAG, Maine — Chris Bilik-Franklin has taught English in China, maintained a golf course in Washington state, cared for animals at Emory University in Georgia, and now will oversee the Mattawamkeag Wilderness Park Campground.
A co-manager with his wife, Midiana, Bilik-Franklin, 39, said he looks forward to the park opening for a cleanup weekend on May 21 and for regular business on May 28.
“We are very positive and hopeful. We think it will go really well,” Bilik-Franklin said Monday. “The forecast is for not as much rain, and with the improvement in the road [through the park], I think we will attract more people.”
This year’s camping season will end on Oct. 15.
Built in 1974, the park first was leased and run by Penobscot County, then by the Friends of the Wilderness Park, a private organization, until 1996. The town has operated it since. Run as a nonprofit organization, the park draws about 250 campers annually.
The park features many outdoor activities, including fishing in the Mattawamkeag River, 15 miles of hiking trails, and several more miles of ATV trails. Of the park’s 50 camping sites, including 11 Adirondack shelters, 11 camping sites have electricity and water, and six have electricity, water and sewer.
The Bilik-Franklins have many ideas to bring to the camp, Chris said. His stepdaughter, Indigo, said she hopes to add a canvas tent built on a platform specially for female guests, perhaps teen girls, who want to camp.
The couple also will add a washing service for dogs that romp in the Mattawamkeag River or other wet spots around the camp and, taking advantage of what the family learned in China, Indigo will teach campers how to cook Chinese food over a campfire, she said.
The Wilderness Park Advisory Board will sponsor the 14th annual Wilderness Park Barbecue on Aug. 7. The barbecue will be at the pavilion behind the recreation hall, which is available for rental along with a commercial-grade gas grill.
Having moved to the park in mid-April, the Bilik-Franklins have a lot of work to do to get the park ready, Chris Bilik-Franklin said. Besides cutting firewood for sale, the park gift shop must be stocked and park trails must be cleared, a job that he hopes will draw a lot of volunteers during the cleanup weekend on May 21.
The Bilik-Franklins like Maine so far, Chris said.
“It’s beautiful in a different way from Washington state,” he said. “It’s nice to see deciduous trees. In Washington, all we really saw were a lot of firs.”
WHO: Mattawamkeag Wilderness Park Campground.
WHAT: A town-owned campground with 50 campsites.
WHERE: Wilderness Park Road, two miles east of U.S. Route 2, in Mattawamkeag.
WHEN: Opening May 21 with a cleanup weekend and open until Oct. 15.
FOR MORE INFO: Visit mwpark.com or telephone 207-290-0205.