The first phase of a two-part, $1.3 million initial revitalization plan for Children’s Island, the Lynch/van Otterloo Y-owned day camp, has begun this fall with the site work and foundations for three new buildings scheduled for completion by next summer, announced Brian Flynn, Lynch/van Otterloo Y executive director.
The new facilities include two multi-stall restrooms located at either end of the island and a cabin designated specifically for the 5/6-year-old “seal pups,” the youngest campers on the 25-acre island located in Salem Sound.
According to Scott Faulkner of Groom Construction, the project’s general contractor, the crew will return to the island in the spring to frame and finish three new buildings before the start of the 2024 camp season.
Jeff Tucker of Tucker Architecture in Marblehead, Raffaele Construction Corp. of Swampscott and Lynn’s EZ Landscaping round out the team. Scott Patrowicz of Patrowicz Land Development in Salem served as site engineer and represented the Lynch/van Otterloo Y in negotiations with the Salem Conservation Commission.
The majority of the first-phase funding was generated through local, private donations, with additional support from the YMCA of the North Shore Capital Investment Fund.
“This is the first step of an overall, multi-phased master plan and series of capital expenditures that will ultimately address the island’s infrastructure needs, erosion challenges, building renovation and new construction requirements, ensuring a bright future for the ‘unplugged’ haven for Y summer campers,” said Flynn, noting that the island has hosted summer camp for North Shore youth ages 5-15 since 1955.
“The camp provides a rare opportunity for young people to disconnect from their screens and reconnect with nature, while enhancing their social skills, building self-confidence and learning about the environment.”
According to Flynn, funding for the subsequent, more extensive components of the Children’s Island master plan will require a substantial financial commitment by the local community and any available state support. Children’s Island is wholly owned by the Lynch/van Otterloo Y.
More than 1,200 campers attended Children’s Island Day Camp this past summer, many of whom were supported by over $100,000 in financial aid generated by the fundraising efforts of the Y, ensuring that every child can experience a magical summer on the stunning and rustic but ecologically-vulnerable island.
With weekly themed programs, and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) activities, Children’s Island offers a day camp experience unparalleled on the North Shore. The ocean setting — just one mile from Marblehead Harbor — offers opportunities to swim, snorkel and kayak, and while on the island campers can dip in a salt water pool, participate in sports and enjoy arts and crafts in a fully stocked art barn. A specialized Ranger Camp, focused on outdoor management skills — including fort building, knot tying, rock climbing, orienteering, archery and team building — rounds out CIDC’s distinctive offerings.
“Children’s Island truly reflects the Y’s mission to support healthy living and youth development,” said Flynn. “The camp is a treasure and community asset absolutely worth preserving.”