Darien Boat Campers explore the Sound
On Friday, July 26, campers from ROSCCO took to the Noroton Yacht Club and rode on 12 boats around the Long Island Sound for Darien’s annual Boat Camp. With over 50 volunteers, 38 campers, and 18 counselors, the group participated in a day full of fun activities. Receiving treats and toys from Pirates in Ziegler’s Cove and visiting the Sheffield Island Lighthouse and even taking the helm of the boats as “the captain of the ship,” these campers were able to “experience the joy of being on the water,” said this year’s coordinator Gerry Raasch.
Boat Camp has been an event taking place for the last 25 years and is coordinated with a number of people and organizations, including: the Darien Sail & Power Squadron, Norwalk Yacht Club, ROSCCO, Person to Person, Norwalk Seaport Association, Norwalk Flotilla 72, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Darien Boat Club, Darien Police Marine Unit, Noroton Yacht Club, as well as boat owners who volunteered to use their boats. All of these organizations were able to make the day possible from providing pirates to allowing the campers to visit the Lighthouse.
“The kids had a blast,” said Raasch. The campers and counselors are assigned a boat, with the boats ranging in sized from 44 feet to 20 feet. Only a few campers are assigned per boat to keep the experience intimate and to allow for the kids to do as much as possible. With life preservers on, the campers took to the Sound. The Lighthouse and the Pirates are the biggest hits, with Pirates giving campers booty like sunglasses, beads, and sugary treats.
While the trip is coordinated and structured with activities, the captains of the boats are given the liberty to choose what to do because they’re encouraged to show the Sound to the campers as if they were sharing it with family and friends.
On Fish Island, owned by Diane and Andres Haleorsen, the campers looked for seashells and treasures in the sand. The day ended with a return to Noroton Yacht Club and an ice cream reception for the campers and adults.
Raasch said, “It’s basically a day to celebrate the water. By the end of the day, everyone has a ton of smiles. For those who volunteer, what they get out of it is the joy of seeing the campers smiles and the excitement of the kids.” He continued, “We allow the kids to just be kids and experience the Sound for those who do not get the chance to go on a pleasure boat.”
On the reception of the day, Raasch said, “I’ve heard when campers came back years later and they’ve said it was one of the best days of their lives. My understanding is that a couple of the campers will eventually become counselors.”
ROSCCO, which serves 1,500 families in southern Fairfield County, primarily Stamford, told Raasch that every year this is the camper’s favorite activity.
Raasch then said, “It’s one of those feel good days for everybody.”