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Earthplace and Mahackeno to Collaborate on 2013 Summer Camp

Meaghan George and Becky Newman with a terrapin and turtle at Earthplace (Camp Mahackeno's longtime mascot is a snapping turtle from Lees Pond).

The Westport Weston Family Y and Earthplace, the Nature Discovery Center have announced plans to conduct a joint camp next summer at Earthplace. Located at 10 Woodside Lane in Westport, Earthplace is situated among a 62-acre wildlife sanctuary that features an interactive natural history museum, over two miles of trails, live animal hall, Birds of Prey and a preschool facility.

Camp Mahackeno, which has been home to the Family Y’s summer day camp since the early 1940s, will be unavailable next summer due to construction of the new Y facility on a portion of the Y’s 32-acre Mahackeno campus along the Saugatuck River, north of downtown Westport.

“We’re so excited about this partnership,” says Meaghan George, Camp and Youth Director for the Family Y. “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.”

“We’re delighted to be able to host the Y’s Mahackeno counselors and campers next summer,” agrees Becky Newman, Camp Director for Earthplace. “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.”

Part of Earthplace's 62-acre property that will be used for some camp activities next summer.

Combining the two camp programs will require considerable teamwork among the two staffs as well as some enhancements to Earthplace’s current camp facilities. Camp capacity will increase to 175 campers, from grades 1 through 11. (Earthplace’s preschool program, which serves up to 50 children entering Kindergarten or younger, will continue to be registered and served by Earthplace staff.)

The combined camp operations next summer will also allow both nonprofit organizations to continue their charitable work with the towns of Westport and Weston, as well as with agencies such as the Fresh Air Fund, to provide scholarships and other financial assistance that will make it possible for deserving children to attend camp and to benefit from the life lessons summer camp offers all children.

Camp co-directors George and Newman are currently finalizing the weekly themes for the 2013 season as well as enrollment and registration procedures. Further information about the combined camp will be provided in coming weeks.  Be sure to visit both websites for the most up-to-date information.

“Talk about a win-win – I know both camps will learn new things from the one another about how to make our great local camp programs even better,” says Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO. “We thank Earthplace for giving our Mahackeno campers this opportunity next summer, and we look forward to collaborating in the future, sharing our facilities and expertise to serve local families and the community as a whole.”

Marie Dalton-Meyer, Interim Executive Director at Earthplace, welcomes this new partnership with Family 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.”