The Recreation Camp Endowment Fund
For 100+ years, thousands of Valley boys and girls ages 5 to 15 have learned how to swim at the Recreation Camp in Derby. The Camp was established in 1915, when Fannie Osborne Kellogg donated 2+ acres of land along the Housatonic River to local businessman Irving Peck for the purpose of creating a “summer swim camp” for Valley residents.
“Back then there were no state parks or public pools, and very few places for children to learn to swim, except in the river – which resulted in many unfortunate drownings, said former Camp Director and UnitedWay Executive Director Jack Walsh. “After Ms. Kellogg’s generous donation, Mr. Peck founded the camp, and its long, successful history began.”
“Mr. Peck, who was the President of the Star Pin Company, invited businessmen, bankers and professionals from Shelton, Derby and Ansonia to his home on Fairview Terrace in Derby for an extravagant lobster feast,” recalls Bob Manger, a President of the Camp’s Board of Directors for 30 years. “He’d sit them all down at the table, lock the door, and wouldn’t let them out until he had their pledges to fund the total budget needed to keep the Camp running for the coming year. It’s been like that since the beginning – the Camp has always been the recipient of the Valley’s generosity.”
Although the times, names and faces have changed, the annual lobster dinner still occurs. It remains one of the Camp’s most successful fundraisers and adds much needed revenue to the major funding received annually from the Valley United Way.
In 2011, a new funding source to help ensure the Camp’s future was created at the Valley Community Foundation named the Recreation Camp Endowment Fund. It was started by a donation from Peter Francini after the passing of his father, Saturno “Fuzzy” Francini, a long time supporter of the Camp, and the driving force to construct the new Camp building in 1961. Supported by others since then, the Recreation Camp Endowment Fund will continue to support campers and camp programs for the next 100 years and beyond.
That’s good news for current Camp Director Mike Drew, who has overseen activities at “the Rec” for more than 15 years. “Our sessions are filled to capacity each summer, and every year there are more and more children on our waiting list,” said Mike, who is one of five Connecticut certified teachers working at the camp.
“Our programs include high quality activities such as boating, outdoor sports, and arts and crafts. Everything is structured – the children are supervised from the time they enter camp until the time they leave. It’s all about their safety – and everyone having a wonderful time here.”
To make a tax-deductible contribution to this fund, please complete the secure, online credit card form below: