Crotch Island was named in 1773, before the American Revolution, because of the shape of the island. Most of the island is forested. It now provides significant habitat for wading birds, waterfowl, shellfish, juvenile fish and other marine organisms.
The use of the island for children's camps started in 1890 with the donation of the site of Camp Durell by Miss Frances Moody of Bath and operated by the Boston YMCA. The existing lodge was built for this camp at the turn of the century using timber from the island.
A children's music camp, Camp Wapello, run by Glen Stokes, a New Jersey school teacher, took over from the YMCA. The camp closed during the Great Depression because of financial problems.
Camp Friendship-Maine, now in its third generation of youth leadership on the island, was founded in 1947 by John L. Duda. He reorganized the camp to provide outdoors camping experience for young members from his John's Boy Club in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1970, when John L. Duda retired, his son, John, took over. John continued Camp Friendship-Maine for summer camps, while founding and running a comprehensive after-school program, Camp Friendship Brooklyn, in Brooklyn during the rest of the year. Both camps addressed various aspects of youth development, recreational programs, educational support and youth advocacy. John retired from Camp Friendship Brooklyn in June 2005 to concentrate his effort on Camp Friendship-Maine.
In his 35 years of dedication, John has focused on providing the camping experience to a heterogeneous youth population, including the wealthy, the middle class and the poor, and all ethnic varieties. From 1992 to 1998, Camp Friendship-Maine was contracted by the New York City Board of Education to provide a camp program for public school students chosen by their principals as potential leaders in the schools and communities.
In 2008 the third generation will take over the operation of Camp Friendship-Maine. John L. Duda's grandson, Chris Duda, takes over the helm as the camp's new director, with his father John staying on as advisor. Chris Duda is uniquely qualified to provide new leadership for Camp Friendship-Maine. Chris has been at the camp practically every summer since he was born and has a wealth of training and experience at the camp. He is a graduate of the SUNY Maritime College, a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain, a Merchant Marine officer and has traveled world wide with the Woods Hole Oceanic Institute. Chris is a passionate sailor and boatsman who wishes to share that passion with young people.
In 2016 Emily Duda became Chris's co-captain. She took over as program director. Emily brought her passions but didn't stray far off the trails her grandfather, father and brother had maintained for so many years. Those passions being empowering young women and art. This past summer 15 girls enjoyed all of the old Crotch Island traditions. They also paved the way for some new traditions. A multi-talented artist Rhiannon Hare hosted a week long weaving workshop. Please read about it from her perspective here- http://www.rhiannonhare.com/blog/2016/8/3/over-under-over-under. The first vegetable garden was built under the fierce leadership of Meghan Sampson. The girls learned how to build a bed, the burden of digging, transplanting and taking care of their plants.
Tom and Jerry are the two oxen who cleared the land and dragged the stones and timber to make the wharf and some of the buildings.