Camp Waubanong weathering storms on way to 89th year
BRATTLEBORO -- When Tropical Storm Irene tore through the mountainside home of Camp Waubanong in West Brattleboro in 2011 there were some in the organization who thought it might be time to close the camp.
The camp, which was founded in 1924, was coming off of a few tough years of low enrollment, and the camp was actually closed in 2011 when Irene dumped more than 10 inches of rain on southern Vermont, leaving about $12,000 worth of damage at the property.
Following the storm, however, Camp Director Shan Miller said the financial and physical aid that came to help Camp Waubanong rebuild ended up encouraging the staff and board to open the camp again.
"When we looked at what Irene did we thought that maybe it was not meant to be," Miller said. "Then we saw how many people were willing to help and we figured it made sense to give it a shot."
Camp Waubanong re-opened in the summer of 2012, with two new programs and reduced rates that Miller says were enacted to help families in the area who were going through tough economic times.
Now the board and staff are getting ready for this summer, and Miller said Camp Waubanong is once again looking forward to another year.
"This is a place where kids can come to unplug from all that technology and spend the whole day outside," said Miller. "That's what we've always done."
Before the summer of 2011 Miller said the camp saw a steady drop in enrollment, which she said most likely was driven by the ever-deepening recession.
In 2010 the camp held a major fund drive to improve the physical facilities and more than $10,000 was raised to get ready for 2012.
In 2012 the camp reduced its rates and Miller said this year the board has worked to keep the rates as low as possible.
The camp is also extending its day program which allows parents to drop their children off any time.
"We understand that the financial situation in New England is not good right now," Miller said. "We have made the prices as low as we can to get more kids there."
Camp Waubanong has gone through a number of changes since it was founded almost 90 years ago.
Originally the camp was located in West Dummerston, before moving to Saxtons River and then Townshend.
The camp moved to its current site in 1964 and was affiliated with 4H for a number of years before losing that affiliation.
Miller said the decision to drastically reduce rates this year just adds to that long history of trying to serve the children in Windham County.
"We hope this will get people to come back and see us," Miller said. "We're still here."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.
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