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Camp Schade to get a full revamp with help from $2.5 million in state funding

The camp, which is run by the Boys and Girls Club of New Britain, has been closed for the past several years after falling into disrepair.

BURLINGTON, Conn. — Camp Schade, a beloved summer camp in Burlington that has been around for nearly a century, is ready for a comeback.

The camp, which is run by the Boys and Girls Club of New Britain, has been closed for the past several years after falling into disrepair. Now, more than $2.5 in state funding will help bring the place back to life.

For decades, the camp served as an escape for children in the New Britain area, just about 19 miles from the city.

"You really get the feeling that you are at someplace different,” said Democratic State Rep. Peter Tercyak, who attended the camp in the 1960s. "There's a lot of folks who remember our activities here and the fun things we did, and how much it meant to get out here and really be away."

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According to the Boys and Girls Club of New Britain, the campsite dates back to the 1920s when it was a retreat for children with tuberculosis.

In 1989, the Boys and Girls Club of New Britain took ownership and turned the site into a regional day camp for kids in the program, which serves lower-income backgrounds and marginalized urban communities.

"As a child, you never knew that you were escaping from trauma and drama in the neighborhoods. That ride from New Britain to Burlington seemed like it took hours to get here,” said James Jones, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of New Britain and a former camper.

Jones is leading the effort to reopen the camp and offer youth the summer of a lifetime.

"We always encourage our kids to find their smart, find their craft. Who's to say some kid won't come out here and say, 'Hey, this is what I want to do,’” said Jones.

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The New Britain legislative delegation helped secure $2.5 in state bonding that will support renovations. That work will include building repairs, re-doing the courts and converting the pool into a splash pad.

“When you are working with children in the inner city, many of these kids don’t get an opportunity to go outside of the city,” said Democratic State Rep. Bobby Sanchez.

"Especially two years into the pandemic, kids have been cooped up at home, and it’d be nice to think they’d be coming out to the wilderness, the forest,” said Democratic State Sen. Rick Lopes.

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The Boys and Girls Club of New Britain will host volunteer clean-up days at the camp during the weekends in the spring. The club is also accepting donations. Donations can be made by visiting the club’s website.

The goal is to get the camp back open for this summer, serving hundreds of children in the region.

Angelo Bavaro is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at abavaro@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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