If you remember summers full of campfires and S’Mores, swimming in a lake or listening to stories under the stars, you might be thinking of your first camp experience.
We are fortunate in nearby Chester to have a facility that creates just those types of memories for hundreds of kids each summer—Camp Hazen YMCA. This year Camp Hazen is celebrating 91 years of positively influencing the lives of kids.
Camp Hazen serves youth from throughout Connecticut while making full use of its 150 acres and lake. Day camp is for local kids entering first through sixth grade, and overnight camp starts at grade three. Campers enjoy traditional camp experiences like boating, arts & crafts, and even rock climbing. But more important, they learn life skills that will help them now and in the future.
Emily Wilkins, a Madison resident, was a camper for eight years and is now a counselor.
“Camp Hazen really opened up my mind and helped make me become a self-confident person,” said Emily. “It’s like a home away from home, and it gives kids the opportunity to be themselves without being judged. They learn how to understand each other.”
Throughout the summer approximately 1,500 kids, welcomed by a mix of international and American staff, will walk through the front gate of Camp Hazen. In 2010, 840 campers received some kind of financial aid and of that number, approximately eleven percent come from Madison.
Bruce Watrous, development director at the camp, admits the need is getting greater.
“Some families financial situations have changed and parents have lost jobs. Families receive financial assistance in varying degrees and parents choose what they can afford. That’s why The Madison Foundation’s support is so important.”
The Madison Foundation has a long-standing commitment to the camp. They have been supporters for nine years and are members of the Chairman’s Circle recognizing major donors.
When grant decisions are made, the board of directors of The Madison Foundation make sure there is money budgeted to help Madison youth attend Camp Hazen.
The Madison Foundation invests a great deal in the Town of Madison but there is nothing more rewarding than investing in the youth of our community.
This article originally appeared in The Source.