Greater Waterbury Campership Fund: Indian Rock joins list of participating camps

WATERBURY — Greater Waterbury Campership Fund welcomes a new addition to its stable of participating camps: Indian Rock Nature Preserve in Bristol.

Indian Rock is the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut Inc.’s environmental education facility encompassing 280 acres of varied habitat, a lake, streams and miles of nature trails. School programs are taught here, but it also is home to Indian Rock Summer Camp.

The Fuller F. Barnes Education Center also is here and features a two-level, 12,000-square-foot facility that opened in 2010 and has a Great Room, two classrooms, two workshops/labs and a 130-foot deck overlooking Indian Lake.

“We are an outdoor, nature-based camp,” said Kirsten Tomlinson, Indian Rock’s director of education and summer camp director with more than 10 years of camp director experience. “We have tree climbing, fishing, canoeing among the many activities here.”

Tomlinson said one of the counselors even has blacksmithing experience and conducts programs on that ages-old skill.

The nonprofit Campership Fund, which pays tuition for children from low-income families, so far has one eligible applicant who wants to attend Indian Rock this summer.

The deadline application for all Campership Fund camps was extended this year to June 15 because of the uncertainties created by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Indian Rock will open June 22 and run through Aug. 21. Tomlinson said the camp staff has been busy “making sure all the safety requirements are in place,” in reference to the health guidelines and stipulations issued by the Office of Early Childhood.

“I’m always excited about the camp season,” said Mary Alvord, bookkeeper and secretary. “The tech kids come in and think they are not going to have any fun, and then you see the bright smiles on their faces.”

At the suggestion of Alvord, Tomlinson said, Indian Rock reached out to the Campership Fund last year and inquired about its programming. Members of the non-profit’s board of directors did a site visit, and the board voted to accept the camp into its participating camps.

Contributions to the Campership Fund continue to come in from generous supporters and have hit the $105,004 mark for the current campaign. Still to come, are grants of $5,000 from the Ion Bank Foundation, and $40,000 from the David, Helen and Marian Woodward Fund that will send the revenue stream past the 90% level of the $165,000 target goal for 2020.

The United Way of Greater Waterbury volunteers its professional services to screen applicants for eligibility. Families who receive SNAP benefits or meet federal poverty guidelines, and with children ages 5 to 18, in Bethlehem, Cheshire, Middlebury, Prospect, Southbury, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott or Woodbury, are eligible to apply.

Canoeing on Indian Lake is one of the many activities at the Indian Rock Summer Camp in Bristol. Contributed photo

Applications can be obtained from the United Way, by searching Campership on, and for the first time, directly from the participating camps from throughout the state that assist the Campership Fund. At least some, including YMCA Camp Mataucha in Watertown, the Cheshire YMCA’s Camp Sloper and Camp Quinnipiac, the Girl Scouts’ Camp An-Se-Ox, and the Girls and Boys Club of Waterbury, have decided to open this summer under the state’s stringent health regulations.

Every penny raised by the Campership Fund, a 501(c)3, goes toward sending accepted applicants to camp. Money not spent this summer will be put toward tuition for summer 2021.

Tuition totaling $157,457 paid for 434 children to attend camp during the Campership Fund’s 50th anniversary year in 2019.

Donations may be sent to Greater Waterbury Campership Fund, 389 Meadow St., Waterbury, CT 06722.

Regular donations totaling $1,088 received last week included:

Mr. and Mrs. David and Donna Adams, Wolcott, in memory of Don Castello, $400

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph and Elaine Bizzozero, Middlebury, in memory of Vincent Coviello, Anthony Fitzgerald and Peter Bizzozero, $200

The welcoming sign for the Indian Rock Nature Preserve in Bristol, which has joined the list of camping facilities for the Greater Waterbury Campership Fund this summer. Contributed photo

Mr. and Mrs. Chris and Cathy Hill, Litchfield, in memory of Janice Altomari, $100

Selim, Linda and Bridget Noujaim, Waterbury, in memory of Ibrahim Antonios, an immigrant from Lebanon who served in the U.S. Army, National Guard, $100

Ms. Virginia Paolino, Naugatuck, in memory of Robert C. Paolino, $100

Ms. Rosemary Malario Liebowitz, Lakeside, in memory of Irene Gross, $50

Ms. Margery Heins and Mr. Philip Schuster, Shelburne Falls, Mass., in memory of Irene Gross, $50

The Whoop Whoop Charity Dance, $33

Ms. Aurelia Caprio, Shelton, in memory of Irene Gross, $30

Mr. and Mrs. Raymond and Hilda Manka, Thomaston, in memory of Irene Gross, $25