Power Squadron hosts Boat Camp for underprivileged kids
Pirates handing out treasure are not what you would expect from a typical encounter, but that is exactly what participants of Boat Camp 2010 received on Friday.
Boat Camp, now in its 14th year, is a program dedicated to giving underprivileged children a chance to experience the Long Island Sound in a way they might not have a chance to do again.
Participants this year came from Camp Hand-in-Hand, Person to Person and Camp Sunbeam. There were 22 powerboats available for the 112 campers. The event is organized by the Darien Sail & Power Squadron; with support from Person-to-Person, Noroton Yacht Club, Noroton Fire Department, Darien Police Department, Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Eaton Neck Coast Guard, Norwalk Seaport Association and SoundWaters.
Squadron member Frank Kemp welcomed the 70 volunteers and captains before the campers arrived, familiarizing everyone with the day's agenda and making sure people knew where they should be. Kemp also suggested the volunteers "de-water" the kids before they set sail.
Once the campers arrived, they were quickly formed into groups of about six and shepherded to their boats. As the boats made their way toward their first destination, the Noroton Fire and Rescue boat sprayed the campers, counselors and captains as they sailed into the line of fire from the water cannon.
The first stop on the tour was at Sheffield Island where the campers explored the beach and the lighthouse before getting back on their boats to continue the trip.
Daniel Medina, one of the Boat Camp participants, enjoyed the brief stop on the island.
"One of my favorite parts was when we stopped on the island and we found crabs on the beach and a dead jellyfish," Medina said.
The highlight of the day -- and a surprise to all the campers -- was a pirate ship that was moored in Zeigler's Cove, readied in anticipation of the unwary campers. However, instead of bombarding the boats with cannon balls, the pirates threw bags of candy to the excited campers, more than a few of which ended up in the calm waters of the sound and were retrieved during later passes.
One camper, so impressed by the display the pirates put on, yelled to the pirate boat as he approached, "Please don't kill me, I didn't do anything wrong."
As the boats sailed away, the pirates warned the occupants not to tell anyone where they were located.
Camper Jonathan Joseph was extremely impressed with the pirate portion of the trip.
"I liked the candy and I liked when the pirates shot us with a water gun," Joseph said. Medina agreed with Joseph that the pirates were one of the best parts of the trip. "I liked when the pirates shot at us and threw candy; one of the bags of candy hit me in the face," Medina said, laughing.
Other campers were more impressed with the trip itself, especially the waters of the sound.
Getting sprayed by the water cannon was a hit with Shawn Ramirez, as well as catching the candy thrown to him.
The voyage on the sound ended with ice cream on the beach next to the Noroton Yacht Club where Judy Kemp was on hand with frosty treats for the eager campers.
Frank Kemp, who remained at the Yacht Club in case any problems arose, said the event was possible because of the generosity of the volunteers.
"I will ask some of the captains when they come in if they want to volunteer again next year and they almost always say yes," Kemp said. "The only reason they say no is because they are going to be on vacation."
One volunteer handed Kemp a check for $100 to help pay for next year's costs, Kemp said. All of this year's volunteers agreed to come back for Boat Camp 2011, Kemp said.