BECKET, Mass. — Summer camps took a significant hit during the past year and the Massachusetts delegation has stepped up to support them as they welcome back eager campers.
State Senator Adam Hinds visited the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA Friday with a giant check for $3,000,000 in hand for summer camps across the state - including $700,000 for camps in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden districts.
"This has been a rough year, as we all know. A year and a half with basically camps going more than a year without income, and we know very well that in Western Mass and in the Berkshires, especially, that camps play such a critical role for so many things, our economy, our seasonal economy, for childcare, for the mental health of our students, and, and on and on and on," Hinds said. "And so in talking with Mass camps and talking about specific camps, it was it was very clear that we needed to make sure that the Massachusetts COVID response also focused on our camps."
The check was addressed to the Mass Camping Association. The association includes 1,400 camps in the state. It is part of funding Hinds secured through an amendment in the FY20 Supplement Budget.
"I want to say it feels like a decade in the ways that we've battled for the last year," Matt Scholl, executive director of the Berkshire Outdoor Center and Becket Day Camp at the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA said to Hinds. "But it's been a long road, and you've been a huge supporter."
This funding will support general expenses as well as extra costs associated with the pandemic such as repaying Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and deferred maintenance from when the camps were forced to shut down
In addition, a camp stabilization fund was created for the camps to support sustainability moving forward.
BCC YMCA CEO Amy Hurwitz Gutschenritter, Executive Director Shannon Donovan-Monti, Camp Director Chris Burke, and Director of Camp Greylock in Becket Michael Marcus were also in attendance.
A majority of the resident camps in Massachusetts are in the Berkshires.
The BCC YMCA camp usually welcomes around 1,400 female campers during the summertime from various locations and has been around for over 90 years.
Camp Becket, the overnight YMCA camp for boys, neighbors the BCC Camp.
he girl's camp normally employs around 300 staff members, 90 percent of them being college age. The camp gives students experience in leadership and resume-building skills that are valuable throughout their whole lives.
Donovan-Monti said the camp was an incredibly stable community that was just "gutted" by the effects of the last year.
During the pandemic, it went without income for almost 20 months but also had some unanticipated needs were required for reopening.
"For us, it was things like a handwashing station and other COVID precautions that we had never budgeted for," Hurwitz Gutschenritter said. "That we never had to spend in the past and definitely needed to operate safely this year."
On top of those costs, there were ongoing expenses that occurred throughout the time of shutdown that had nothing to do with personnel and campers. Ongoing maintenance was required to keep the large property in order had to be paid whether or not the BCC YMCA camp was operating.
Scholl explained that the stabilization fund is so important for the camp to survive because it will be paying back debts associated with the pandemic for two to four years.
Reportedly, at least a couple of camps within the district did not survive the pandemic.
"Without your help, we would not be here today," Marcus said to Hinds. "Really, for many reasons."
Berkshire County Camps that received funding:
Kistner Foundation Inc. Red Gate Farm Education Center in Ashfield, $10,000
Camp Greylock in Becket, $45,000
Camp Watitoh in Becket, $45,000
Two State YMCA - Camp Becket in Becket, $45,000
Two State YMCA - Chimney Corners Camp in Becket, $45,000
pittsfield.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.