State biologists from left: Nels Kramer, Richard Dill and Brian Campbell weigh and measure lake trout that were captured in a trapnet in late October on Schoodic Lake in Brownville. The biologists are monitoring the condition of the fish to ensure there is enough forage. Credit: Diana Bowley | BDN

Come July 14, a group of Maine Key Clubs, led by the club at Penquis Valley High School in Milo, will stage an event that you may want to consider supporting.

Not your run-of-the-mill fundraiser, the first Schoodic Lake Bass Fishing Tournament is trying to share something that Maine has plenty of — fresh water — with countries that simply don’t have enough of it.

Rachel McMannus, the school’s Thirst Project coordinator, said the idea to stage a bass tourney was her dad’s, and came on a day when she was engaging in a typical Maine activity and enjoying a day on a large, freshwater lake.

“We have a camp on [Schoodic] and we go fishing a lot,” McMannus explained. “We were out there fishing and we were talking about The Thirst Project, and some ways our club could try and raise some money. And he was like, ‘How about a fishing tournament?’”

The idea made sense to McMannus, and really drove the point home: We Mainers are lucky, and are surrounded by water. Others aren’t so fortunate.

“I think this is a perfect example of how in this country, and in the state of Maine, while we have so many lakes, we can take water for granted,” McMannus said. “So I brought it back to the club and they really liked the idea.”

The tournament is scheduled for Sunday, July 14, with registration running from 5 a.m. until 6:30 a.m. at the boat launch in Lakeview Plantation. The weigh-in and a barbecue will be held at 3 p.m.

McMannus, who will be a senior in the fall, said she learned about The Thirst Project during a Key Club convention in Massachusetts, where she watched a powerful video that showed children in other countries struggling to obtain clean drinking water.

“They were so happy, but yet they live in a community where most of them are sick because they drink water that is contaminated,” McMannus said. “And not only are they sick, they have to walk up to eight miles a day just to get that [contaminated] water.”

Women and children are typically the ones who go to fetch the water, McMannus said, which means that neither group is able to work nor get an education in some countries, as they’re spending most of their time trying to provide water for the family each day. She said that one child dies every 21 seconds as a result of drinking contaminated water.

The cost of one well in a developing country is estimated at $12,000, and that’s the total the Penquis Key Club is trying to raise. Through other efforts during the school year the club has already reached the $5,000 plateau.

“They’re so expensive because they drill wells a lot deeper than you normally would so they’re more sustainable,” McMannus said.

McMannus said her high school won’t be staging the event alone; Key Clubs from the area will also be pitching in.

“In Key Club we have divisions, and we’re in Division 2, along with Foxcroft Academy, Greenville and Dexter. And our clubs are really close,” McMannus said. “So a lot of their kids will be coming over to help us as well, which I think is really cool. I mean, we’re all rivals in sports, but when it comes to Key Club, we all just kind of come together and help each other out.”

And in the process, they’re hoping to help people they’ve never met.

Who knows? Maybe a few BDN readers will choose to chip in as well. That was McMannus’s hope when she reached out earlier this week, looking to spread the news about the tournament, and her club’s project.

If you’re interested in competing or donating to the cause, you can reach Rachel McMannus, tournament organizer and Key Club Thirst Project coordinator, at or 279-9993 or Casey Dall, registration chairman, at or 409-0069.

John Holyoke can be reached at or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter, @JohnHolyoke. His first book, “Evergreens,” will be released by Islandport Press in October.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...