Penacook summer camp can’t afford to open in 2020

Monitor staff
Published: 1/18/2020 6:44:36 PM
Modified: 1/18/2020 6:43:39 PM

YMCA Camp Spaulding in Penacook has the summer off, which means lots of kids will be left out in the cold.

The accredited residential camp alongside the Contoocook River on Bogg Road, for children 8 to 15 years old, announced this week that it no longer has the finances to remain open this summer, citing declining enrollment in recent years.

Waypoint, formerly Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, and the YMCA of Greater Nashua combined to take control in a joint five-year partnership, with Waypoint owning the camp and the Nashua YMCA operating it.

That agreement between the two nonprofits ended last year. Since 2014, more than 900 children – about 400 in the overnight program and 500 in the daytime-only session – have attended the camp, according to a press release.

“Over the past five years, enrollment has been down and we’ve been incurring losses, without having success at reaching the number of campers we’d need to make it sustainable,” Waypoint president and CEO Borja Alvarez de Toledo said in a follow-up email to the Monitor.

“The low enrollment is compounded with the fact that we’ve been wanting to make improvements to the campus for a long time, and these financial constraints have been precluding us from doing so. Now, these very improvements are necessary and it would take a major fundraising effort to achieve them.”

The YMCA Camp Spaulding website continued to provide information late Friday afternoon on costs, stating that each of the four sessions offered – from late June to the middle of August – costs $1,450. Financial aid was offered.

The camp has traditionally reached out to economically challenged families and at-risk populations across the state. Alvarez de Toledo said a coordinated effort has been made in years past to help campers afford the fee.

“We fundraise to provide camperships to those from low-income families, to ensure that every kid who wants to attend gets that opportunity,” Alvarez de Toledo said in his email.

Children had not yet enrolled for this summer’s program when the disappointing news surfaced. Waypoint and the Nashua YMCA have agreed to help camper families find other camps.

Meanwhile, the camp’s sustainability remains fuzzy.

“While the future of Camp Spaulding is yet to be determined, looking at its long-range viability is a priority for Waypoint leadership,” Alvarez de Toledo said in the official email. “In our line of work, we never say never. Nothing is impossible.”

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