Kamp for Kids spray park opened

Kampers perform a skit Friday to celebrate the dedication of a new spray park at Kamp for Kids at Camp Togowauk, a summer program for able and disabled children, and the opening of the camp’s 37th season. (Photo by Carl E. Hartdegen)

WESTFIELD – Friends, supporters and participants of Kamp for Kids at Camp Togowauk gathered at the Russell Road home of the summer program for able and disabled children Friday to dedicate a new spray park at the camp.
The ceremonies were moved indoors due to the gentle rain falling outside.  The rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of the camp staff and supporters who included Elin Howe, the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, State Sen. Michael R. Knapik, State Rep. Donald Humason, representatives of the Rotary Club of Westfield and the city’s advancement officer, Jeff Daley.
The spray park replaces an aging and decaying swimming pool which, Sue West, CEO of the camp’s parent organization, the Carson Center, said was neither safe for the Kampers to use nor easily accessible to some of the disabled Kampers.
The cost of refurbishing the pool to make is safe and universally accessible was found to be prohibitive and the spray park was deemed to be a cost effective alternative that also has the benefit of being easily accessible to Kampers of all abilities.
West thanked Daly, as a representative of the city, for the city’s funding support via a Community Development Block Grant.
The park also received substantial financial support from the Rotary Club, which has dedicated several fundraising events to the project in recent years.
West presented Mark Boardman, a recent president of the Rotary Club, with a certificate and he took advantage of the opportunity to announce that the proceeds of a recent fundraiser, which will be delivered soon, are expected to retire the remaining outstanding debt from the project.

Kathleen E. Damon, the recently retired CEO of the Carson Center, cuts a ceremonial ribbon to formally open a spray park name in her honor at Kamp for Kids at Camp Togawauk, a program of the center. Holding an umbrella for Damon is thh president of the center’s board of directors, Phil Cameron. (Photo by Carl E. Hartdegen)

The spray park was dedicated to Kathleen E. Damon, the former CEO of the Carson Center, who had stewarded the project to its impending completion before her retirement early this year after leading the Carson Center for 21 years.
Damon came back for the ceremony from her new home in Maine.
After the ceremonies inside, Damon cut a ribbon to ceremonially open the spray park and  the president of the center’s board of directors, Phil Cameron, unveiled a plaque (under a tent) on the spray park fence naming the facility in her honor.

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