CARNIVAL DAY AT THE JOHN J. NERDEN REGIONAL TRAINING CENTER CAMP ON FRIDAY, JULY 23RD IN MIDDLEFIELD.
It was Carnival Day at the John J. Nerden Regional Training Center Camp in Middlefield on Friday, July 23rd. It was everything that one would expect at a typical carnival but better. They had games, food, karaoke and even a Dunk Tank where a staff member acted as the "Dunkee" so the RTC Campers could try their luck and dunk the staff person. Multiply all of this by two and the result was an extraordinary day filled with smiles, laughter and high fives.
The camp serves people with intellectual disabilities and campers can start attending when they are 6 years old. According to Director Sue Chenard of Meriden she said the camp does not place an age limit when they have to stop attending camp. "People can keep attending past age 60. Our oldest camper is 67-Rose Macri of Meriden." The camp began its season June 21st and ended on August 6th. Its hours were Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The RTC Camp served 50-75 campers a day with 15 full-time staff and approximately 45 volunteers as "Counselors in Training" according to Director Chenard. She stated "Not all of them(volunteers)
Where do the campers come from? Chenard said "We serve many campers from all areas of the state. Not many camps like the RTC Camp." She did point out that the Meriden & Wallingford are the biggest areas, but they get campers from Middlefield, Durham, Middletown & Guilford.
The camp is funded from the towns the campers come from as well from service clubs like the Kiwanis Clubs, the Meriden & Middletown Civitan’s, the Elk Clubs of Meriden & Middletown and the Meriden Knights of Columbus according to Laurie Nerden-Russell, the President of the Camp's Board of Directors.
How had the COVID-19 Pandemic affected the camp? "It hasn't affected the spirit of the camp. We try to make things as normal as possible so our campers will have a great experience. We do have to wear masks inside the buildings. We practice social distancing at camp, and we use hand sanitizers," stated Chenard.
Even though the camp season ended on August 6th this does not mean the end of fun for the RTC Campers. Throughout the year the RTC Camp has activities for their campers. According to Director Sue Chenard it is “By invitation only for the older group of campers.” In October they have a Halloween party at camp. The other activities take place in the Meriden-Wallingford area. In November it is an outing to a movie theatre, December-Christmas Party, and the other activities take place in February, March & May.