DERBY, VT - For generations, area youth were able to experience going to camp at Coutts-Moriarty located on Salem Lake in Derby, VT. The six-week camp could entertain 450 day and overnight campers with a variety of outdoor activities, including access to the lake.
Thanks to a new community building on the upper level, the camp is nearly ready for it's spring opening, with the ability to do more and offer more year round.
Two years ago, the board of trustees were faced with a financial dilemma - how to keep the camp operating and the buildings in good physical condition with only a six-week operating season. There wasn't sufficient money available to keep the camp open without another funding stream.
That's when Jason and Annie Brueck offered to merge their non-profit education company Siskin with Coutts-Moriarty and use the camp's facilities to offer year-round educational programs for students throughout the Northeast Kingdom.
The merger created an organization with a mission to educate youth about the environment, conduct field trips, monitor area ponds, teach leadership skills, and work with area schools and other community organizations.
“One way to create a year-round environment at the camp is to construct a community building where we can hold education seminars.” stated Annie, “We held 600 programs this last school year. It will be great to have this facility to use.”
Last year, Siskin provided educational services to 11,000 children and will continue to focus on expanding services to area students. Coutts will focus on operation of the day camp and will be able to use the new community center, allowing for an increase in the number of day campers if the trustees choose to do so.
Along with the traditional waterfront activities including swimming, canoeing, and kayaking, the camp boasts more walking/skiing trails, including a one-mile loop trail constructed by Eagle Scout Alex DeRoehn of Derby. Another trail under construction will be used to access a pond owned by Susan Taylor, who's property lies adjacent to the camp.
“We will use the pond to analyze and teach students about the environment.” Annie states. Siskin's classes will support the students' school curriculum.
Annie is quite proud of the new building especially because it incorporates a local flavor. “All the window trim, molding, shelving, cabinets and some of the framing was cut and milled on this property.” she said. “The siding we purchased for the exterior was cut and milled locally. We tried to do as much as we can to keep costs down.”
An estimated $50,000 or more was saved in labor by holding volunteer weekends, and with the support of area Boy Scouts, and junior high school students. St Johnsbury Academy students roughed in the electrical work and will be back to finish later this month.
The project was started in November last fall when the foundation was poured.
“We are able to realize some of the savings in labor cost because the winter was mild enough that we were able to do a lot of the work without having to sub-contract it out.” said Annie.
With a target date to open the facility of May 15, Annie is asking the community for support on one more major project, putting siding on the building.
“We need volunteers who can help us on May 5th, a Saturday. We'd really like to get the building done so we can start using it.”
She added, “There will be a free lunch, too.”