The Sgt. Joel A. House Summer Camp began in 2008 with the money sent with sympathy cards in lieu of flowers. Joel A. House was a 2003 Lee Academy (Lee, Maine) graduate who entered the U.S. Army after high school. He was on his 2nd tour to Iraq with the 1st Cavalry Division out of Ft. Hood, TX when he was killed by an improvised explosive device in Taji, Iraq on June 23, 2007, his mother Deanna’s 47th birthday.
The family wanted to start something with the $12,500.00 seed money that reflected Joel’s diverse personal interests and would help Maine children grow, dream, and live up to their full potential. Joel loved the Maine woods and wanted to return from his military service to become a game warden or Maine guide like his father Paul.
His favorite place in the world was his family’s camp on Silver Lake where he loved swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, and all the other activities of Maine summer. He had attended Greenland Point Conservation Camp for 2 years in junior high where he gained his hunter/safety course to prepare him for a lifetime of hunting with his dad and older brother, Luke.
Joel loved sports, too. In bootcamp he turned the 500-1000 push-ups Luke & he practiced each day during the summer before bootcamp into the PT Award (Top Athlete). In junior high he played soccer, basketball, and baseball.
In high school he began traveling to Guadalajara, Mexico with his Spanish teacher mother who arranged short-term cultural home-stays between students from Lee Academy and the bilingual high school subdivision of the college Universidad del Valle de Atemajac (UNIVA). Joel began learning Spanish to go with the French he was learning in high school from Mdm Kelly.
He also became passionate about music there and soon picked up guitar playing. Everyone loved to listen to Joel play the guitar and when he died, the family understood the meaning of the Don MacLean lyrics to “American Pie”. It was truly the “day the music died.” Joel played high school sports and band with equal passion.
Through all Joel’s endeavors, he was a growing Christian.
When Joel’s family began to comprehend all the facets of Joel and all the dreams lost through his death, they formed the idea of giving Maine kids the chance to explore their potential. They remembered Joel’s growth at Greenland Point, and the summer camp experiences of his siblings. They decided to create a scholarship program for K-12 students by encouraging them to attend an academic, sports, visual/performing arts, conservation, or Bible camp of their choice.