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Bushy Hill and Pequot-Sherwood Day Camps are well-known local programs of the Incarnation Center. Located on more than 700 acres in Ivoryton, Incarnation is a hidden Connecticut gem. The scenic property is home to miles of hiking trails, a ropes course, farm, and a private, mile-long lake. Incarnation Center welcomes more than 25,000 guests annually to its year-round conference and retreat center, camps, and outdoor education programs.
What is the Incarnation Center?
In 1886, the parishioners of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, located in New York City, rented a farmhouse in upstate New York as part of a "fresh air" program to bring children from the tenements of New York's lower East Side to spend a week in the fresh, country air. On June 19, 1886, 25 young boys and girls became the first campers. Over time, the Incarnation Center grew and 90 years ago, in 1929, the Church of the Incarnation purchased the land in Ivoryton. Incarnation Camp is the longest continuously running co-ed sleep-away camp in the U.S.
Why two day camps if it's
all the same place?
"The simplest answer is because we are able to offer something for everyone on this incredible piece of property," says Bushy Hill Nature Center Director Jen Malaguti. "In the early 1980s, the nature center was opened for all visitors to enjoy. Many of the nearby schools, scouting organizations, and local families frequented the nature center and it became clear that there was a need for a non-traditional, educational day camp in the area. In the summer of 1982, the first group of Bushy Hill campers spent their days getting dirty, hiking, swimming, and learning. The program has expanded over the last 37 years to offer preschool to high school-aged programs."
While both the sleep-away and nature camps were growing, there was still a need that was not being met for the local community: a classic day camp option for families who had multiple children but different interests. In 2002, Pequot-Sherwood Day Camp was born.
"We have many families who split the summer between the two camps or send one child to Bushy Hill and their other child to Pequot-Sherwood, because while there is the common theme of nature running through both programs, the camps are fundamentally different," says Malaguti. "Pequot-Sherwood offers more international influences, arts and crafts, sports, swimming, and boating. Bushy Hill's unofficial motto is 'If you don't go home dirty, we didn't do our jobs!' We are reconnecting kids to nature, letting them know it's okay to get dirty. We swim, canoe, build shelters, teach what it means to leave no trace, and explore as much of the 700 acres as possible!"
In addition to sharing a great location, the camps offer joint transportation to families.
The nature center and trails are open and free to the public from Sept. 1 to June 1.
This story and photograph were provided by Bushy Hill Nature Center, located at 253 Bushy Hill Road, Ivoryton. For more information or to register for camp, visit www.incarnationcenter.org or call 860-767-2148.
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