Darien’s Noroton Yacht Club hosts Stamford kids out on the water: a day to ‘remember their whole lives’

DARIEN — Thanks to the generosity of many local boaters, a group of kids from Stamford got a taste of rolling on the high seas.

The Noroton Yacht Club — in cooperation with the marine units of the Noroton Heights Fire Department and the Darien Police Department, as well as the Norwalk Coast Guard Auxiliary — hosted kids from the Stamford-based Rogers School Community Center Organization at its annual boat/camp event.

With the help of Darien nonprofit Person to Person, a group of about 50 kids went out on the water — many for the first time — on 18 boats belonging to members of the yacht club last Friday morning.

“This is a great experience,” said Wendy Lesperance, deputy director of ROSCCO. “The kids always enjoy it.”

“We’ve been doing this for many years,” she said. “It’s a great partnership with Person to Person.”

Campers arrived by bus and first received an introduction to life preservers and a short lesson on boat safety by the boat owners.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” said Brianna Maeda, 8, who said she had never been on a boat and said she hoped to see some fish out on the waters of Long Island Sound.

The boats headed out into the Sound after passing under a water archway created by the Noroton Fire rescue vessel.

“This is an experience that they’re never going to have again and they’re going to remember their whole lives,” said Nancy Coughlin, chief executive officer with Person to Person. “It seems simple, but it has tremendous impact.”

She said her group works with the social workers in the Stamford Public Schools to determine which kids will take part in the journey.

“These kids have never been out on the water before,” said Frank Kemp, who helped found the initiative 22 years ago.”They’ve never seen Long Island Sound. They’ve never been on a boat.”

Without exception, he said, the experience is a profound one for the campers from Stamford.

“They see what an island is,” by visiting the Sheffield Island Lighthouse, where they were greeted by some friendly pirates at Ziegler’s Cove. “They see what a lighthouse looks like.”

Simon Johnson and his family have taken part in the boat/camp program for 20 years.

“They love it,” he said of the Stamford kids. “They genuinely love it.”

While some of the children are fearful when they first head out, he said that ultimately their faces light up with joy, wonder and curiosity when out on the water.

“The kids get a lot out of it, and it’s nice to be able to share it,” he said.