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Westport Y construction plans prompt summer camp move

Published 5:41 pm, Thursday, December 20, 2012
  • The Westport Weston Family Y plans to hold its Mahackeno summer camp at the Earthplace nature center in 2013, due to construction of a new Y center at the Y's Mahackeno campus. Photo: Paul Schott / Westport News
    The Westport Weston Family Y plans to hold its Mahackeno summer camp at the Earthplace nature center in 2013, due to construction of a new Y center at the Y's Mahackeno campus. Photo: Paul Schott

 

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The Westport Weston Family Y's Mahackeno summer day camp will head across Wilton Road for the season to the Earthplace nature discovery center next year.

With construction of the new Y's 54,000-square-foot complex expected to be under way next summer at the 32-acre Mahackeno campus, the Y and Earthplace plan a joint summer camp about two miles away at Earthplace's 62-acre campus at 10 Woodside Lane. The Earthplace grounds include a wildlife sanctuary, a natural history museum, more than two miles of trails, a live animal hall and a preschool center.

"We each have something the other doesn't have that we can bring to the collaboration," said Rob Reeves, the Y's CEO. "This a way to emphasize that Camp Mahackeno is a program and services. It's about relationships developed between staff and campers. It's about being outside and exploring and learning about nature. And that can happen at Sunny Lane or on Woodside Lane."

The relocation of the Y's summer camp had been planned by Y officials to accommodate construction of the Y's new home. Y officials hope to open their new Mahackeno building in October 2014. A groundbreaking for the new Mahackeno center is set to take place in the first quarter of 2013, according to Reeves.

The Mahackeno camp will return to the Mahackeno campus for the summer of 2014, when outside construction of the Y's new building is expected to be completed, Reeves added.

The jointly run camp will benefit Earthplace, as well, said Becky Newman, Earthplace's camp director.

"We're delighted to be able to host the Y's Mahackeno counselors and campers next summer," Newman said in a statement. "Not only will our campers have access to the Y's pools for free swim throughout the summer, the Y's campers will experience a variety of Earthplace activities, including pond studies, trail walks and animal encounters."

The combined camp operations next summer will also allow both nonprofit organizations to continue their charitable work with the towns of Westport and Weston and with nonprofit agencies such as the Fresh Air Fund to provide scholarships and other financial assistance for children to attend camp.

"We're so excited about this partnership," Meaghan George, the Y's camp and youth director, said in a statement. "Our Mahackeno campers will be in a wonderfully natural setting that's close to our longtime home and that will also provide them great new opportunities to learn about nature, science and the environment, while having fun."

The joint camp's co-directors, George and Newman, are finalizing weekly themes for the 2013 season, as well as enrollment and registration procedures, according to the Y.

"We look forward to this collaboration, which offers great learning opportunities to all who attend and enables two great organizations a chance to work together on creating a new way to serve the community," Marie Dalton-Meyer, Earthplace's interim executive director, said in a statement.

pschott@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561, ext. 118; twitter.com/paulschott