Connecticut camps had a great summer and that the CT Camping Association is looking forward to our fall programs and annual meeting in December.
VCA will be meeting on Friday, September 16th at Songadeewin from 10 – 2pm. This is our annual fall meeting and wrap up of summer.
The Vermont Department of Health (DOH) was going to include camps in the enforcement of its new lodging rules. Bette Bussel, ACA New England Executive Director, and a number of camp pros in VT attended a meeting and opposed including camps in these rules. Ellen Flight, President of Vermont Camp Association, provided this update “…the State of VT has decided to take camps out of the lodging rules going forward. They heard us and saw that camps really did not belong in this proposed rule change. I want to thank all of you who wrote, called and presented at the hearing. Clearly our thoughtful and coordinated response made a difference”
The VT DOH will be looking for some set of regulations to use for camps. They will be looking at what other states do and they will also be considering ACA Accreditation Standards as a possible regulatory route. Lillian Colasurdo of the VT DOH has been invited to the VCA Winter Meeting to talk, present or get feedback from VCA Members.
“THANK YOU, Bette for the information that in no other state do camps get regulated under lodging. The support of ACA New England to our Vermont efforts was really important from the start. We do have a bit more to do and it’s great knowing that ACA New England is there to help us!” - Ellen Flight
Once again our fall meeting will be at Migis Lodge. The day starts with a MSC Board of Directors Meeting at 9:00 am, this is followed by our membership meeting for camps at 11 am. Around 12:15 our business members will join us for a MIGIS Cookout. Check out photos of the event.
Where: Migis Lodge Casco, Maine
When: Wednesday, Sep. 21st 9:00 am to 1:30 pm
Maine State Camps Volunteer Lifeguards
When town officials in Raymond, Maine were on the verge of canceling the summer swim instruction program because they had no lifeguard, three Raymond summer camps came to the rescue.
Pat Smith, a former Camp Wawenock director who for decades organized Raymond’s swim program, spearheaded the effort. The result of what one camp director called Smith’s “stick-to-itiveness”? Camp Agawam, Camp Timanous, and Kingsley Pines Camp each provided volunteer lifeguards to stand watch on the shores of Crescent Lake. The program was saved, and 30 Raymond youngsters got their lessons.
“Pat called, asked do I know anyone to hire,” said Camp Timanous Director Linda Suitor. “I thought, ‘we have a lot of lifeguards; maybe we can help out and maybe there are other camps, too.’”
“I was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of camps,” Smith said. Despite their multitude of responsibilities in preparing for the upcoming season, she said, camp administrators responded to her inquiries and helped come up with a solution.
“There was a real spirit of collegiality,” Smith said. “They all wanted to help however they could.”
Karen Malm, assistant director of Camp Agawam, says the credit goes to Smith. “She did a lot of extra legwork to make it happen,” Malm said. “Her stick-to-itiveness made it happen.”
“The priority for everybody was getting the swim lessons to happen,” Malm said, “to make sure Raymond Rec. could run the program.”
And it did. Four weeks of lessons, four days a week, with more than a dozen lifeguards from three different camps all donating their time and ability and enthusiasm.
“They have all been wonderful,” said Pam Synk, who taught the lessons and also provided the lifeguards with rides to and from their camps each morning. “They are competent, enthusiastic, just great.”
“This was like assembling a fun puzzle, since we had a different guard every day,” Synk said, adding that transporting the lifeguards offered time to talk about the venue and the structure of the lessons.
Synk said the lifeguards learned and remembered swimmers’ names, led the charge into the water each morning, and quickly bonded with the youngsters they were guarding, she said.
“There was no reluctance at all,” she said. “They were excited to do it. They were amazing.”
Alan Kissack, director of Kingsley Pines Camp, which offered lifeguards on four days, said his counselors “were happy to help out. They had fun.”
One of the lifeguards to pitch in was PJ Synk, a head counselor at Camp Timanous. Synk, who is swim instructor Pam Synk’s son, is currently spending his tenth summer at Timanous, his fifth as a counselor.
“I think giving back is important,” PJ said, adding that he has worked with Habitat for Humanity and a number of soup kitchens. He said that during the summer he has helped out at Camp Sunshine in Casco, which serves children with life-threatening illnesses, along with their families.
A cabin counselor who also teaches both swimming and lifeguarding, PJ said he and the other lifeguards “appreciated the opportunity to get out of camp and work with local children.”
“Community outreach by camps is important,” he said. While it’s easy to get caught up in camp schedules and programming, he said, “I think looking beyond that into the community is spectacular.”
An added benefit, said Suitor, the Camp Timanous director, was the chance to collaborate with other camps. “Everyone wanted to do it for the right reasons.”
For Camp Agawam staff, the choice to volunteer was in keeping with the camp’s mission of service, said Stephanie Hogan. Hogan, Agawam’s waterfront director for the past five years, has been affiliated with the camp since 2000. She said Agawam’s program known as “The Main Idea” – which for more than four decades has offered a week of free camp to boys for whom a camp experience would otherwise be unavailable – is another symbol of the camp’s commitment to community. So when Hogan and a handful of other Agawam lifeguards joined the crew of volunteers for Raymond’s swim lessons, it was “seamless,” Hogan said.
“I think we all feel a sense of duty and commitment to the Raymond community,” Hogan said. “When we heard about the lifeguard situation it was a no-brainer.”
Hogan said the fact that some of the youngsters taking swim lessons had attended The Main Idea program made the volunteering even more significant.
“They got a vision of us outside the Agawam community,” she said. “When we go to Raymond Rec. we are on their turf, supporting them. It’s incredibly meaningful.”
A community in need, its commitment to teaching kids to swim, and some like-minded camps determined to do their part. Collaboration, cooperation and a spirit of giving back meant that, once again, Raymond, Maine’s youngsters got their summer swim lessons. And a lot of thoughtful lifeguards had fun making it possible.