by Diane Valden

ANCRAM - The former Camp Natchez will once again welcome summer campers.

The Schafler family sold the property at the intersection of County Route 7 and Four Corners Road to the State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, which will lease the camp to the New York City Chapter of the Association for the Help of Retarded Children.

The private non-profit organization serves city children and adults with moderate to severe developmental disabilities, says Department of Camping and Recreation Director Debra Deal.

The Schafler family tried to revitalize the camp in 1997 with a proposal to build an indoor ice arena, but eventually withdrew the plan under the strain of neighbor opposition and mounting legal costs.

The facility was then leased to Morry's Camp, which provided a free summer camp to economically disadvantaged youth from the metropolitan area.

The AHRC camp on 47 acres with frontage on Lower Rhoda Pond will serve 135 campers every two weeks from mid-June to the end of August.

The camp will likely be named in honor of Anne Krauss, past president of the AHRC chapter, and is essentially a relocation of Camp Catskill, operated by AHRC in Liberty, Sullivan County, for 25 years.

The organization has been looking for a new site to replace the Liberty camp, which is in great disrepair and on a non-wheelchair-friendly slope, says Ms. Deal. "Camp Natchez is a flat, beautiful site."

As weather allows, the organization will begin renovations on existing buildings and the construction of four new buildings: three handicapped-accessible camper cabins and a dining hall.

The camp staff will number 165 including 7 nurses.

The organization plans to draw from the surrounding community for kitchen, maintenance, and laundry staff.

Most camp counselors come from abroad. "We have a 40 to 50% return rate, they have such a great experience," says Ms. Deal.

The camp will offer swimming, boating, arts and crafts, dance and music, possibly a nature program and small adventure course.

"This is the only chance the children have for a vacation and the parents for a respite," says Ms. Deal, noting the majority of campers come from private homes.

And neighbors will be happy to learn the new camp does not use a loudspeaker system, a bone of contention in the Natchez days.

"We're not bringing the city with us. We're coming to enjoy the countryside," says Ms. Deal, who expects the camp to be ready for campers in the summer of 2002.

Main page | "Friends, Alma Mater and Taps" - lyrics and mp3 | Bunk Pictures | Alumni Directory
Camp Anne photos - July 2003 | News Article on Camp Anne (7/25/03)
News article on the sale of Camp Natchez to NY State AHRC (12/14/00)
Renovation photos, September 2001 | Renovation photos, July 2002
March 2002: Phil Gundy, Camp America, 1972 | November 2001: NYC Firefighter Jason Cascone
October 2001: Tribute to Mike Tosti