July 7, 2006
Camp Hollis Celebrates 60 Years this Summer
It’s summer at Camp Hollis. Children are roasting marshmallows around the campfire, making boondoggle key chains and performing funny skits – much as they have been for the past several decades.
It’s hard to believe, but Camp Hollis is celebrating its 60th season this summer.
Camp Hollis has seen tremendous changes over the years, but it continues to provide Oswego County’s children with a unique summer camp experience.Counselors and children now sleep in 12 cabins that have electricity and rest rooms. The administration building contains a large kitchen and dining area, nurse’s office, and director’s office. There’s a separate arts and crafts building with plenty of workspace, sinks and shelves full of craft supplies. Children have room to play on the basketball court, baseball diamond, football field, and large field that overlooks Lake Ontario.
The facility is owned by the County of Oswego and managed by Youth Bureau Director Kathleen Fenlon and her experienced staff, including Jim Farfaglia, who has overseen the day-to-day activities at the camp for the past 16 years.
In 1946, Camp Hollis began as a recreation experience for underprivileged children who had health problems. Today, any Oswego County child age 9 to 14 can spend a week at camp. Eight-year-olds can come for an overnight camping experience.
But the season doesn’t end in August. The camp is used every spring and fall for a senior citizen camp. A safety training institute is held early in the summer and there’s a “family camp” experience for families in late August. Oswego County Hospice and the Youth Bureau offer “Camp Rainbow of Hope” to help bereaved children work through the grief process. During the fall, middle school students and staff from all over the county take part in “Natural Highs” weekend.
Special events for school children are held during the winter and spring breaks. Businesses, corporations, and community groups of all ages practice team-building skills at the camp’s Challenge Course. And more than 800 students from local schools attended an environmental education program this spring, thanks to a grant from Constellation Energy and a joint partnership with “Project X.”
The registration fee for Camp Hollis is based on family income and ranges from $25 to $150 a week. Full and partial scholarships are available from the Friends of Camp Hollis, a not-for-profit organization. The group raises funds through donations and grants and has raised more than $25,000 annually over the past few years for camper scholarships. The friends group is dedicated to keeping the Camp Hollis experience within reach of all county residents.
Camp Hollis receives a broad base of support from the community. More than 200 volunteers were involved in getting the camp ready for the summer season. The list of this year’s donors includes more than 70 organizations, families, businesses large and small, and corporations from all over Oswego County. They include Constellation Energy, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, and banks, churches, greenhouses, and pizza shops. In past years the friends group received major grants from the John Ben Snow Foundation and the Rosamond Gifford Foundation.
There are still a few openings for campers this summer. For information, call the youth bureau at 349-3451 or 349-3241, or download an application from www.oswegocounty.com/youth/Hollis/Camp.html When it’s not being used for summer camp and youth bureau events, Camp Hollis is available for use by families, scout troops and other organizations.
The County Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee oversees the activities of the youth bureau and its facilities, including Camp Hollis. The committee includes Legislators John Proud, chairman, District 7; Barbara Brown, vice chairwoman, District 8; Daniel Chalifoux, District 19; Arthur Gearsbeck, District 6; Leonard Ponzi, District 17; Paul Santore, District 16; and Kim Seager, District 10.
On behalf of the committee and all of the Legislature, I want to thank the youth bureau staff, Constellation Energy, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, Friends of Camp Hollis, and the many individuals that work throughout the year to make Camp Hollis such a special place. It is a history that we can all be proud of.
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