Neither cloudy skies nor autumn’s chill could dampen enthusiasm as campers, officials and parents gathered on Sept. 28 to celebrate Camp Paquatuck’s groundbreaking on its new pool. Slated to open in time for summer 2024, it replaces the old pool, which closed two years ago.
Welcomed by Camp Paquatuck executive director Kristin Cafiero, guests enjoyed light refreshments and a presentation by Steve Kronman, president of the camp board. In his summary of the pool’s development, he cited many community efforts to raise money so that it could become a reality, including contributions from the Knapp-Swezey Foundation, the Patchogue Rotary’s Golf Tournament, Mastic-Shirley Rotary and the Paquatuck Fundraisers, whose efforts added $400,000 to the fund. Tom Chieffo, vice president of the board and Moriches Rotarian, and Donna Boyle, assistant district director for Andrew Garbarino, also made brief presentations to round out the occasion.
Special adaptations will make the pool a cherished part of the camp experience. Its zero-access design replaces stairs with a ramp; its maximum depth of 4 and 1/2 feet is less threatening for challenged campers. Floats will be available for campers who want to cool off without going into the water.
From its beginnings 75 years ago as a two-week camp for children with polio, Camp Paquatuck has grown steadily to a full-season facility for children with special needs thanks to the tremendous support of community members and local officials, this year serving 240 children for the season.
The goal to reach the next level of service would increase from 50 to 70 the number of children in each session. Its entire budget of $1.3 million is covered through donations and fundraising. The annual Spooky Walk in October is a major event in the camp’s calendar and a local community tradition, helping to increase awareness of its mission and add to its fundraising efforts.
But for Paquatuck campers, these are not primary concerns as the weather warms and summer begins. On the day of arrival, the only important question, “Is the pool ready yet?” will next year be met with a resounding, “Yes!”