For many years the Baptist Conventions from the New England states had cooperated to provide camping in Ocean Park, Maine. Attendance had dwindled, and they found that it was no longer financially possible for them to continue as they had in the past. Since Massachusetts had such a well-established and successful camping program, the other states which were still involved, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, asked if Massachusetts would be willing to take over the Ocean Park operation, both its assets and liabilities. After much consideration Massachusetts agreed to do this. All programming except the traditional New England Baptist Youth Conference was suspended in 1975 in order to make improvements on the buildings in the Ataloa and Royal Ambassador areas. A skeleton crew was hired to provide meals and security, and volunteers were invited to come and give the buildings of the camp a facelift.
They came – they worked, the same joy in working together for a cause in which they believed. Paneling and carpeting were installed in Mitchell, covering up holes which had allowed guests to see what was happening several rooms away. Improvements were made to the R.A. kitchen and dining hall, and finally the old salt-water swimming pool was filled in and restored to dune grass. It was a summer full of excitement, anticipation, and no little measure of faith. Events, which would later be the source of fireside reminiscing, happened every day. Ed Guerard and Gil Beal, a contractor who volunteered to help resurrect Oceanwood, spent most of one night in a roadside rest stop nursing a hand-me-down pick-up truck donated to Grotonwood and loaded with sheetrock; Arthur Chambers, an octogenarian with the enthusiasm of a teenager, insisted on starting at 4 a.m. every day when most of the other volunteers were just getting to sleep; every small “easy” project was not; one repair led to another; but the work progressed and by the end of the summer, a future for NEBC was again in view. Credit Paul Blanchard with suggesting “Oceanwood” – what more appropriate name to show the common ministry of two camp centers 100 miles apart.
As a distinctive feature, early in its renaissance Oceanwood added horseback riding to its repertoire of resources, which along with the many tourist activities in the area, the attraction of a beautiful beach, and the somewhat improved facilities soon began to attract a crowd. At the onset of the horseback program, worn-out race horses were purchased from Scarboro Downs, a harness racing track only seven miles away. They were gentle, attractive animals, grateful to be rescued from less pleasant alternatives. They moved with grace, not speed, and helped set the stage for a resource which would become an Oceanwood trademark.
As is the case with any program of this magnitude, especially one which includes so much property, maintenance expenses were high and finances often a problem. In 1976 Fred and Ann Rugg made a generous donation to the New England Baptist Council in memory of their son who had been a Royal Ambassador camper. That gift sparked the beginning of the Alumni Association for the New England Baptist Council, and two years later gave birth to GOSH (Grotonwood Oceanwood Supporters & Helpers).
Oceanwood continues to host the Mid-Summer Festival held in Ocean Park at the end of July, and offering an entire weekend of fun, including such things as horseback riding, a giant yard sale, an auction, and wonderful food – from lobster dinners to blueberry pancake breakfasts.