Nonprofit buys Camp Deer Lake in Killingworth – NBC Connecticut

A summer camp at Killingworth was saved through a grassroots effort.

Thanks to donors, two private lenders, and the non-profit organization Pathfinders, Inc., Camp Deer Lake can continue to operate as a summer camp and recreation space.

“I’m holding back my tears because this was a very special moment for all of us who worked so hard,” said Cat Harris, member of Pathfinders Inc.

Camp Deer Lake was Cat Harris’ second home. A summertime tradition that began for her in fourth grade and continued throughout her adulthood. She shares this love of camp with her daughter.

“It’s freedom for a lot of kids. It’s straight out of the past. Not a lot of technology,” Katrina Harris said.

Like Cat and Katrina, those with childhood and family memories tied to the 253-acre camp have worked to keep it going.

“Oh, I’ve been here several times this summer. It’s an absolute treasure. Great hike, great fishing, it’s dead quiet,” said Brian Glenn of Middletown.

The property, which was previously owned by the Connecticut Yankee Council of Boy Scouts, came on the market following the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case.

In February, the board released a statement on its website: “Put simply, we own too many properties for the members we have today.” That same month, they tentatively accepted a $4.6 million offer from the developers.

But in just seven weeks, the nonprofit Pathfinders, Inc. was able to offer $4.75 million and purchase the land.

“We started our own campaign and struck a chord with the community. They really wanted us to succeed, and they showed it,” said Pathfinders, Inc. President Ted Langevine.

Langevine’s “Save Deer Lake” campaign has been supported by many state leaders and environmentalists. Many of them have been to Deer Lake themselves or understand its importance.

“I’m a former scout,” said AG William Tong. “My eleven-year-old son is a member of Stamford-based Troop 15. We know personally, and so many families across Connecticut know personally, what places like this mean.”

“It’s really a legacy, what nature should be. There’s nothing wrong with developing in the right places. People need housing. But not here,” Senator Richard Blumenthal said.

Thanks to their advocacy and donations from 87 cities in Connecticut, 34 states and a few countries, the nature camp and school is here to stay. Langevine says next steps include repaying a $1.8 million loan over the next 10 years.

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