Camden Police Chief Phil Roberts has a broad smile on his face mostly these days and glimpsing him as he makes his morning rounds in downtown Camden, one might detect a slight spring to his step.

That could be because the injured foot of this marathon runner is finally mending; more likely, however, it is because he has but a month left on the job before he retires after 36 years of service. And let no one think that being a police chief in a small town like Camden is an easygoing job, a town where demands take every shape and form, from parents worried about cyber-bullies to busting up bar fights, from tragedies to corralling runaway horses and constant criminals.

But Roberts has been praised for his calm nature and soft-spoken diplomacy. Camden has felt comfortable with him leading the 12-man staff at the Public Safety Building, and settled in comfortably with him at the helm 10 years ago, following several years of turmoil in the police department. At the time, in the spring of 2000, Camden formed a search committee to hire its next police chief following the departure of Terry Burgess. The nine-member committee, consisting of Joy Brown, Selectman Paul Cartwright, Claire Frye, Parker Laite Jr., Selectman Leonard Lookner, David Nazaroff, Jerry Stone, Dana Strout and Town Manager Roger Moody, voted unanimously to hire him.

“I was impressed with his qualifications, honesty, integrity and openness,” said Committee Chairman Looker, in 2000.

Camden Select Board member John French said the town has benefited from Roberts’ calm approach.

“”He came in during a tough time,” he said. “He has done a good job for the town. He certainly changed the department and earned the community’s respect.”

Roberts first arrived in Camden in 1980, following six years as a patrol officer in Simsbury, Conn., and carrying a master’s degree in criminal justice from American International College in Springfield, Mass.

He knew instinctively about community policing, learning about law enforcement not only from books, but from former Camden Police Chief Albert Smith, whom Roberts credited with teaching him about keeping the town safe and sound.

Roberts is now handing what he’s learned to his successor, Lt. Randy Gagne.

“Randy has the faith of the community and the faith of the people who work there,” said Roberts. “It takes a long time for a community to have faith.”

He lobbied hard for the Camden Select Board and town manager to hire Gagne as his replacement, and on Nov. 23, the town followed his recommendation with the Select Board voting unanimously in favor of Gagne’s appointment.

So where is Roberts going?

“We’re clearing out, period, and see where life takes us,” he said.

Roberts and his wife, Cheryl, have lived in Lincolnville, raising two children. Their son, Ben, is a now sergeant in the Marine Corps and just returned from Afghanistan. Their daughter, Jill, is a registered nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston.

Cheryl will be leaving her job in registration at Penobscot Bay Medical Center, and they will pack up their belongings aboard their newly acquired RV, a Wanderlodge.

“It’s in Chattanooga, so I know we are going there first,” said Roberts. Then, only the open road knows where they will go next.

“We’ll be headed for Texas, just because it’s warmer,” he said.

The Wanderlodge is a recent investment for the Robertses. Last spring, they visited Georgia where a rally of Wanderlodges was taking place.

“We went down to see them and get some information,” said Roberts. “The short story is that we ended up buying one.”

The story actually started earlier, at a campground last summer in Thomaston, where the Robertses spent part of a vacation camping. They discovered through a fellow camper the allure of the Wanderlodge, a line of recreation vehicles produced by the Blue Bird bus manufacturer.

That was the pivotal point, and Phil and Cheryl Roberts decided to divest of their Lincolnville home and a lot of belongings — though not their cat, who will climb on board with them — and hit the road.

“We really don’t have any plans,” he said. “We are going down to pick it up and see where life takes us.”

But, they are managers in part, by career, so the Robertses are not without some planning; in fact, Phil intends to pick up working gigs along the road, just to get to know America a little better. They are roughly hoping to spend at least three months in a given community, and Phil might find temporary employment in law enforcement to supplement retirement and keep a hand in the game.

“I want to see small town America,” he said. “And if I have to clean toilets, that’s OK.”

By joining the corps of travelers in RVs, Roberts figures they are joining approximately one million fellow Americans on the road, exploring their country and Canada. It’s a growing trend in the former land of the covered wagons, and the Robertses are hitting the trail.