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Beautiful park, ideal camp setting

For years the village of Millerton has offered a fairly robust summer recreation program based out of Denny Pool at Eddie Collins Field. It was well organized, it was well rounded, it was well received. It was, for all intents and purposes, a typical summer camp experience for the boys and girls who attended — there was a pool, a playground, ball fields, arts and crafts, a pavilion — all of the sorts of activities one would associate with summertime.Fast forward to this year, 2014. Village Board and Recreation Committee members Debbie Middlebrook and Christine Bates thought about the village’s summer recreation program and how to make it even better. They had been following the progress of local and state officials at Rudd Pond, located at the Taconic State Park — a mere five minutes and not even five miles from Eddie Collins Field.Rudd Pond had been battling a weed infestation problem with all its might, and with town, village and state support. Weed harvesters and benthic barrier mats had been brought in to curb the weed overgrowth with good results. The pond, it seemed, was clearing up — with swimming, boating and fishing returning to the park with hopes for both increased traffic and appreciation.Along with such improvements came the state’s recommendation for more activity at the park and the brainstorm for Millerton’s summer camp to move from Denny Pool to Rudd Pond. Middlebrook and Bates took the idea and ran with it.“It was just brought up that it used to be there, and there was a discussion by the board about what a beautiful environment is there, and that it’s such a great natural resource that we need to utilize,” said Middlebrook.From there the two trustees put their energies into pursuing a summer camp program in the midst of nature’s wonderland. They have also been planning for some great new activities, amenities and services.At Rudd Pond there is a lovely swimming area and plenty of room to boat and fish. The park offers places to barbecue and picnic and great hiking trails. There’s a playground, bath house and a tent that is going up in lieu of a pavilion. There will be transportation provided from the North East (Webutuck) Central School District campus to the park for summer school students registered for half-days.The North East Community Center (NECC) will be providing breakfast and lunch to the campers throughout the week.There will be volunteers from the community stopping by to share what they do, teaching the campers about their trades and hobbies.The best part is that the fees are affordable, whether campers are town or village residents ($85 for full time) or nonresidents ($110 for full time).The goal, said Bates, is to connect the camp to the park, the community to the camp, and the park to the community. Anyway you slice it, it’s win-win. Millerton and North East are fortunate enough to have a resource like Taconic State Park’s Rudd Pond in their backyard — why not make use of it? It’s only through consistent usage that the state will continue to support the parkland and the town’s and village’s efforts to maintain and improve it. In the meanwhile, young children will have the opportunity to attend camp in a gorgeous, natural setting — and that really is something special. Kudos to Middlebrook and Bates for making it a reality, and to the entire Village Board for supporting an improved vision of their summer recreation program. It’s a great idea, and we hope it goes swimmingly.

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