History of the Foundation and the Kamp
The New York District Kiwanis Foundation was started as a non-profit funding arm of the New York District of Kiwanis, so that tax deductible donations might be collected to help improve the camp property that had been practically donated to the district by the Kiwanis Club of Rome. It has grown over time to be much more. Including being the birthplace of the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center Foundations and the Pediatric Lyme Disease Foundation. The Foundation also now offers college scholarships and has a disaster relief program in addition to operating and maintaining the summer camp.
Approximately 90 years ago The Utica Observer, a local newspaper in Utica, NY, began a feature article about the property which Kamp Kiwanis occupies today with this statement: "A haven more than 100 years ago is one again today. That's the history of the Laney property at Fort Lee, used in pre-Civil War days as a station for slaves traveling the Underground Railroad and in use now as the Rome Kiwanis Health Camp for Boys."
The camp is no longer called the Rome Kiwanis Health Camp for Boys, and there are few people left who even know that the area was once called Fort Lee. Today, all New York District Kiwanians can be proud that Kamp Kiwanis not only accommodates co-ed camping but is also wheelchair accessible and hosts a program for adults and welcomes all ages with many different forms of special needs. Yes, the camp is still there but some remarkable things have happened over the years to make it the facility it is today.
It is an interesting story of how the New York District Kiwanis Foundation came to own what is now.
The Early Years
1832 - The earliest records show that William S. Laney Jr. purchased the land now occupied by Kamp Kiwanis in 1832. He erected a tannery on Mitchell Brook, which runs through the property, and a four-room boot and shoe manufacturing shop which employed several workers.
Laney was a member of the Old Presbyterian Church and some years just prior to the start of the Civil War, a division occurred in the church over slavery. Many local residents, including Laney, were strong abolitionists and withdrew from the church. It was during this period that the Underground Railroad was in operation. The Underground Railroad was a system of stations which provided a secret means of passing the runaway slaves from the South to the North and eventually to Canada and freedom. The slaves, who traveled by night, were hidden at the various stations during the day. The property Kamp Kiwanis now stands on was one of those stations. To the right is a picture of the original house which contained the "secret passages". This structure was destroyed by fire in 1968. The current Administration Building is located on that site.
1893 - About 1893, Harvey Bartlett bought the property and later sold it to Ernest Porter of Lee.
1921 - Harvey Bartlett sold the property to the Rome YMCA's executive director, Arthur Hollis, who established a camp for Sentinel (newspaper) carriers in 1921.
Rome Kiwanis Group Acquires Property
1930 - The Rome Kiwanis Club purchased the camp on March 14, 1930, and incorporated the Rome Kiwanis Recreation Association on April 4, 1930. The Kiwanis Health Camp for Boys, sponsored by the Association, opened on July 1, 1930, a move the Utica Observer described as "What once provided for the enslaved peoples of the South now provides a sanctuary for youthful slaves of the cities."
An old camp history described the Rome Kiwanis Recreation Association as "the functioning organization for the club in all legal and financial matters." It continued that the "YMCA, from the very beginning has been the program functioning for the camp organization, with Carl Clippinger, a member of the Kiwanis Club and General Secretary of the YMCA, as the directing genius of this camp since its very beginning in 1930 under the Kiwanis sponsorship." From its inception until its first closing after 28 years, Carl H. Clippinger served as the Kiwanis Camp director. The old historical article noted that it was through "this joint plan of operation this health camp for boys has built up a very enviable record of good will and public interest." A constant reference is made to the "arduous work and devoted interest of Kiwanians, the Izaak Walton League, the Rome State School Employment Club and the Ro-Men's Club."
1932 - In the spring of 1932, the Izaak Walton League members erected a new mess hall. The Rome Kiwanis Club was also aided by members of the Izaak Walton League in its initial work of getting its property into shape for use as a camp, including the construction of a dam for a swimming pool.
This early newspaper photo from the Rome's Jervis Library archives shows members of the Rome Kiwanis Club and the Izaak Walton League working together at the site of a dam during the construction phase in 1932.
1950 - Another newspaper photo from Rome's Jervis Library archives shows Kamp Kiwanis as it appeared in 1950 "after 20 years of successful operation in the molding of better citizens", the newspaper caption stated. On the left edge of the picture is the corner of the original Laney home which was built in 1832 and used to harbor runaway slaves. At the time the picture was taken the house was still being used as the camp's administrative building and the nursing station. On the right of the picture is the dining hall built in 1932.
New York District Searches for Camp Site
1966 - In 1966, District Governor Thomas T. Pierce, who had experience operating a Children's Day Care Center, appointed a District Committee to investigate the feasibility of obtaining a piece of property for the establishment of a District Children's Camp for use as a sleep-away camp for underprivileged boys.
1968 - It was reported in the May 1968 issue of the Empire State Kiwanian that the "administration and storage building in the popular Rome Kiwanis Club Boys Camp at West Lee was gutted by fire on April 6th." "Forty firemen from two volunteer companies battled the blaze for an hour before getting it under control." "The fire devastated a historical landmark which dated back to pre-Civil War days. Underneath the building is an area which formerly served as a way station for slaves heading north."
Lt. Gov. Robert Teamerson of the Finger Lakes Division, an attorney, undertook the legal work to form the Foundation. Various members of the District Board, including Lt. Govs. Jack A. Tetamore of the Genesee Division, Donald Miekam of the Central Division, Hugh Trainor from Van Rensselaer, District Treasurer Louis L. Theiss, Jr. of the Bayside Club, who was to become the President of the Kiwanis International Foundation, and Gov. Steven Hart, who was to become the District Foundation's first President, checked out possible camp sites throughout the state. Sites were inspected in Van Rensselaer, on Lake Ontario, along the Southern Tier and in the Catskill Mountains.
Kamp Kiwanis Transferred to New York District
Then the Kiwanis Club of Rome contacted Steve Hart to offer its existing camp to the Foundation for one dollar ($1). "The price sure sounded right," Hart had indicated, so the District Board authorized Hart and Miekam to attend a mid-December meeting with the Rome Kiwanis Club. At that meeting the camp was transferred to the Foundation. Gov. Hart related that he "paid the purchase price of $1 from my own wallet and, to this day, (he) has never gotten as much pleasure out of spending a dollar as (he) did on that occasion." He calls that Dec. 16, 1968, transaction, the day that "our Foundation and Kamp Kiwanis was officially founded."
The Foundation had not actually been formally established in 1968 when the agreement was reached with the Rome Kiwanis Club. Therefore, the original deed actually ran from Rome Kiwanis Recreational Association, Inc. to the New York District of Kiwanis International.
New York District Foundation Formed
1969 - Governor Stephen Hart and the District Board of Lt. Governors completed the formation of the New York District Kiwanis Foundation, Inc. and the New York District conveyed the property to the Foundation. The primary purpose of forming the Foundation was to own and operate Kamp Kiwanis, a camp for underprivileged boys throughout the New York District of Kiwanis. It should be noted also that incorporation meant the Foundation became a not-for-profit corporation with a 501(c) 3 classification as a charitable organization. This meant that all donations to it were tax-deductible.
Official Opening of Kamp Kiwanis under District Foundation
1971 - The official opening of Kamp Kiwanis took place in the summer of 1971 for a six week program with six cabins and a new administration building.
At the Jan. 15, 1971, meeting of the Foundation Board of Directors President Donald Miekam announced the appointment of the first Camp Executive Committee to oversee camp operations and handle any problems arising between meetings of the Board. It included himself, District Secretary Norman C. Kidder, Victor Perretta and E. J. Usselman. Governor Fisher announced the creation of the first District "Satellite Golf Tournament to be played at the Concord from Aug. 25-29, 1971, to be sponsored by Liggett and Meyers Company and the Concord.
1972 - In 1972 six additional cabins were built enabling us to double the capacity.
The Foundation Board and the Camp Operations Committee began a "Work Weekend" Program so that Kiwanians, their families and friends could make much needed, hands-on contributions at fixing up the camp to make it ready for the youngsters. The first of these plans were developed in a period when the Foundation President would begin making the announcement that Kamp Kiwanis is currently covered by four or five feet of snow.
1974 - The official report on the 1974 camping season reported that "only 58 clubs sponsored 178 campers during the six week season." It was noted that the "fine cabin and dining hall facilities can accommodate 50 boys a week." The Hudson River Division was complimented for pooling its efforts and reserving a whole week for its campers.
1975 - The 1975 Kamp Kiwanis season was successful, with attendance up approximately 35 percent over 1974 to 279 campers, part of which Foundation President Jack Tetamore attributed to the promotional and public relations campaign that utilized Division Coordinators to reach the club members and a new camp promotional slide program they had available to show at club and division meetings. The price was $60.00 per boy for 6 days of a camping session. 6 weeks were set aside for Kamp Kiwanis that year. The Kiwanis Club of Buffalo also brought 48 special needs children during the week following the camp's regular season.
The Foundation Board at its October 1975 meeting voted to approve the construction of an in-ground swimming pool at the camp. It was costing Kiwanis $1,000 per season to bus the boys to Lake Delta, which was necessary because the state Health Department did not approve of swimming in the pond on the camp property.
The Foundation also helped the Sponsored Youth Programs, sponsoring the Key Club, Circle K and Tripe K Conferences. The Foundation also tried a new program with Delta Laboratories in which the company helped Kiwanis Clubs test for water and air pollution in their communities to promote environmental cleanups.
New Pool Built
1976 - During the 1975-76 year, the District Foundation introduced a new fund-raising tool for local clubs, giant coloring books. While the sale of each book netted the Foundation only ten cents, New York State Kiwanians proceeded to sell 260,000 coloring books, netting $26,000.00. The Foundation used the profit from this fundraiser to construct an in-ground swimming pool on the lower level near the cabins and bathhouse. This picture was taken at the pool's dedication on Sunday, Aug. 2, 1976. From the left are Willard Sauter, Kiwanis Lt. Governor of the Central Division; Jack Tetamore, President of the Kiwanis Foundation presenting a plaque to John Piersma, Chairman of the Construction Committee; Harry Seaburg, Governor-elect of the New York District; and Don Reese, Camp Director.
1977 - The fee per camper rose to $70 per week for the 1977 summer season, with a goal of 384 youngsters, since two new cabins had been built, making it eight cabins on the 56.7 acre camp, accommodating 64 boys a week. President Tetamore commended Camp Operations Committee Chairman Clarence Vanderzell and his team for their tremendous work and called on Kiwanians and clubs to support the Foundation District Patron Program.
1978 - A new narrated slide presentation was prepared for the 1978 season, with Division Coordinators and other Kiwanians receiving an orientation at the January regional training conferences. The Empire State Kiwanian began in 1978 to include a four page "Foundation Report" twice a year.
In his 1978 annual report, President Jack Tetamore reminded all 14,000 members of Kiwanis Clubs in the New York District that the Kiwanis Foundation is their vehicle to use to participate in service projects too broad or immense for individual or local abilities. He pointed out the Foundation sponsored the annual Key Club, Circle K and Tri-K conferences and, once again promoted the Circle K Board meeting and training conference for club officers at Kamp Kiwanis. The Giant Coloring Book program produced another $6,000 for the Foundation. The Kamp Kiwanis operation was in the black for the second year in a row.
The New York District Kiwanis Foundation, celebrating its 10th anniversary in the 1978-79 year, marked the occasion by creating a $100,000 interest income producing fund, half of which was planned to be raised that year. All Kiwanians were invited to contribute $10.
During 1978, 318 campers enjoyed the facilities of the well located, modern, well run Kamp Kiwanis. There was room for 448 campers, so the facility only operated at 71 percent of capacity. The camp broke even financially again that year, as 10 divisions increased the number of campers sent.
This was the year the Foundation Scholarship Program was announced. 1978 would be the year the Foundation grew by offering a second program in addition to the Kamp Kiwanis program. The Foundation uses the same scholarship criteria today, which we used 40 years ago at the programs inception. The four criteria include Financial Need, Community Merit, Career Goal and Scholastic Achievement. Miss Terri Pugh of Jamesville, a graduate of Jamesville-DeWitt High School was awarded the first Foundation Scholarship of $2,000.00, she was recommended by the DeWitt Kiwanis Club.
1980 - The June 1980 Empire State Kiwanian pointed out that the cost of camp was now $75 and the Endowment Fund was now over $15,000. Banner patches are now being offered for contributions of $4 per club member, with special paperweights being presented for individual contributions of $100 or more.
Pivotal Decision Year for Kamp
1984 - This became a pivotal decision year for the camp. Although the camp was continuing to serve a recognized purpose, the financing of the operation and maintenance of the camp continued to be a struggle for the Foundation year after year. There were other concerns as well. The camp still only accommodated boys and there were no provisions for serving the special needs campers as first envisioned by then Governor Thomas Pierce in 1966. A final factor was that many of the buildings needed major repairs and upgrading and it was becoming more and more difficult to meet New York State codes for youth camps. It was time to decide whether the camp should be sustained and improved or discontinued with its ownership reverting back to the Rome Kiwanis organization.
So, in the 1984-85 administrative year, Governor Jack Harten and his Board of Lt. Governors decided to hire an architectural firm from Cleveland, Ohio, which specializes in camps, Schmidt, Copeland & Associates, to evaluate Kamp Kiwanis and its property.
The consulting firm's final report detailed their findings and recommendations. Basically, they liked the setting of the camp and saw a great potential for its future expansion and development. Their report recommended that the current property be kept and that a three-phase improvement program be instituted. The first phase was a natural: Renovate the camp property and bring it up to New York State Building and Health Department codes. Phase two required that the property be renovated to be wheelchair accessible. Phase three, without giving specifics as to how or where, was to build a conference center.
New York District Kiwanis Rolls Up Its Sleeves
1984-85 - In October 1984, Governor-Elect Robert Calabrese met with the architect-consultant at Kamp Kiwanis and decided to make Kamp Kiwanis his Governor's project for the 1985-86 year. "The Pride Drive: The Governor's Project" proved so successful that Foundation endowment funds that were planned to be spent were not needed. A total of $170,000 in cash was raised. Donated services came to more than $20,000, for a grand total of $190,000. The donated materials included tools, tiles, a van, a car, a pool table, a video slide show of the camp, electrical fixtures, lawn tractor and a fire system for the kitchen.
SMILE Drive and unplanned new Executive Director
1986-87 - During the 1986-87 year of Governor George Kane, the SMILE DRIVE brought in an additional $28,000, making the two-year total more than $190,000 in cash donations.
The Foundation knew that the in-ground swimming pool needed to be repaired. So they asked a swimming pool contractor, Chris Henske to visit the Kamp and recommend how to repair the in-ground swimming pool. He not only came and advised but stayed on to oversee the repairs himself. Chris liked the area so well that he sold his business on Long Island and agreed to take the position as the camp's director. That position had been vacated by the unexpected death of former director Thomas Filliponi, who had died just before the camp session ended the prior summer.
1987-88 - Governor Charles H. Price and Kamp Kiwanis Executive Director Chris Henske oversaw major changes during the 1987-88 year, including the building of a handicapped accessible bathhouse; lifts for the pool, pond and dock area; heater for the pool; paved and widened walks to accommodate wheelchairs and campers on crutches; a van with a lift and the institution of an adult/senior citizens (16 years and older) camping program. The Governor's Project, under Price's leadership, raised $77,000, all of which was designated to cover the new and changed facilities at Kamp Kiwanis.
Girls and Special Needs Accommodated by Kamp Kiwanis
1988 - The addition of new facilities combined with the new special provisions at the camp brought the laughter of young girls and children with special needs to the camp during of summer 1988. That year the camp was sold out with 672 campers, including 65 children with special needs. That was indicative of a lot of divisions signing up youngsters for particular weeks at Kamp Kiwanis with the Kiwanis Club of Bedford-Stuyvesant from the Brooklyn Division of the New York District of Kiwanis International taking over a whole week.
The fees for sending a youth to Kamp Kiwanis was $160 for both 1988 and 1989. Round-trip transportation supplied by the camp was $40. Because of the special camper-to-counselor ratio requirements, the fee for sending a handicapped youth to camp was set at $375, with transportation costing $100.
1989-90 - During the 1989-90 year of Gov. Steven R. Scharoff, Chris Henske was able to obtain a $64,300 grant from New York State for expanded work on the wheelchair accessibility projects at the camp. The parking area was paved, more paved walks were added, and special provisions were implemented for the special needs campers at the pond level and the pool.
The Scholarship Program had a high of 40 applications. The Foundation decided to give (5) five $500.00 scholarships and (2) two $1,000.00 matching scholarships from Key Club and Circle K International.
Adult/Senior Citizens and Special Needs Campers Welcomed
1989 - Kamp Kiwanis began serving senior citizens in 1989 and adult campers with special needs in 1990. The official ribbon cutting to mark the opening of Kamp Kiwanis as a wheelchair accessible facility took place on Monday, June 18, 1990. Sitting in the wheelchair and cutting the ribbon is Ethal Martin of Rome. Holding the end of the ribbon at the left is David V. Veatch, a barrier-free design advocate. Among the on-lookers in the second row from the left are: Charles Brooke of Lee Center, Harry Bilton Jr., Lt. Gov. of Central Division, Chris Henske, Executive Director of the Kamp, and Philip F. Catchpole, director of Rome Developmental Disabilities Service Office (DDSO).
The $64,000 state grant was obtained by Executive Director Chris Henske, through the state Developmental Disabilities Services Office in Rome to make the camp wheelchair accessible. In his remarks Philip Catchpole said Kamp Kiwanis was the only summer camp in the state that was fully staffed and equipped to mainstream asthmatic, autistic, as well as the physically and mentally challenged youth groups right along with the other boys and girls who attend camp.
Gehrig and Ruth ... Orville and Wilbur Wright ... Lewis and Clark ... every now and then, in some walk of life, there comes an inimitable pair, each with their own assets and experiences, who will forever change the world around them. In our corner of Kiwanis International, that statement can be applied to Foundation President and Vice President - John G. Gaglione and Frank D'Orazi.
This dynamic duo had an impact on literally thousands of young lives, as the catalytic force in making OUR "Kamp Kiwanis" what it is today - an immense source of pride for New York District Kiwanians and an incredible opportunity for the underprivileged and physically challenged to experience one of the great joys of childhood.
They each came to the Foundation with considerable credentials in other venues. A Distinguished Lt. Gov. of the Long Island South Central Division in 1980-81, John was a long time community leader and former Little League Commissioner in East Meadow, where a ball field is named in his honor. John served for 12 years on the Foundation Board, including two as vice president and eight as president.
A Distinguished Past Lieutenant Governor, Frank had been a phenomenal influence on his Queens West division and its Sports Foundation. During his career he served as president of Greater Woodhaven Development Corp., chairman of the Twelve Towns YMCA, a member of the Queens Lighthouse for the Blind, and was recognized by the Salvation Army for his community work. He served on the Foundation Board for nine years, including the last seven as its vice-president.
Together, D'Orazi and Gaglione oversaw the passage of new by-laws and the restructuring of the board; the expansion and beautification of Kamp Kiwanis; the birth and growth of the Anton J. Kaiser medallion program with its distinctive Burgundy jackets; and the increasing success of the Janis Calabrese golf tournament. Under their careful guidance, Kamp Kiwanis became an accredited and respected program.
Key Clubs Support Kamp Kiwanis
1990 - In 1990, the New York District of Kiwanis Key Clubs, under the leadership of Key Club Governor Joseph McDonald, realized that they had their own cause within the District's K-Family that they should be supporting, Kamp Kiwanis. In its November 1990 issue of The Empire Key, the Key Clubbers note that Kamp Kiwanis now operates as a fully staffed and state certified co-ed camp for the physically and mentally challenged and the elderly. Its 35 staffers handle approximately 96 campers per week.
The Key Clubbers decided they would raise funds which would be used to complete the Drama Center that was originally a project initiated by the Cy Morgenroth Fund.
1991- The camper fee for 1991 was established at $225.00, an increase of $65.00. The Foundation Board set this price because the Kamp was not filling to capacity and was operating at a loss.
Governor Alfred Bevilacqua and the Foundation signed agreement and began coordinating the three proposed Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Centers. Representatives of the three trauma centers sat as ex-officio members at Foundation Board meetings.
1993- The Past First Ladies Memorial Tree program is founded. At its inception, it encompassed all Memorials. Over time it has been a project that the Past First Ladies has funded throughout its life. In 2012, the first ladies begin the Tree of Love project, placing a new leaf on a Tree Plaque honoring the past first ladies and Gents.
New Kamp Assets Dedicated in October 1996
1995/96 - On Oct. 5, 1996, a number of New York District dignitaries and other Kiwanians gathered at Kamp Kiwanis to dedicate many recently completed projects. Among the major items dedicated were:
The Morgenroth Drama Center. A number of years ago the District lost a great man and fellow Kiwanian, Seymore "Cy" Morgenroth. Cy, as he preferred to be called, served his club, division, and district well. To honor this fine gentleman, the money donated in his honor was used to create this new arena for young children to find self expression and thereby foster greater self-esteem. The Drama Center has evolved to include music and dance programs that serve as a focal point of programs which emphasize imagination, self-expression, and development of self-confidence and team cooperation. The District Key Clubs were also recognized for their significant funding support to the project. Currently, the campers and staff refer to the Center as M/D/D referring to all three programs of Music, Dance and Drama.
The Commemorative Wall, the west-facing facade on the pavilion which eventually became Governors Hall when it was completely enclosed, is comprised of engraved bricks that were bought in memory of deceased Kiwanians, in recognition of good works of others and by individual Kiwanians in support to the Kamp. This is an on-going project. Currently (4) four walls encompass the “Commemorative Wall”. Clubs and individuals are encouraged to add their name or that of a Kiwanian they would like to recognize.
Maureen and John Meir Bridge, While the bridge at the dam had actually been there a number of years, it was appropriate to recognize the Meir's, who are both now deceased, for their thoughtfulness in providing funds for this project at the time it was built.
The sun shelter at the pool was constructed in the spring of 1996 with funds raised by past-governor Dutch Craumer's Board. This large lean-to building provides relief from the hot sun for the adult/senior citizens and youth. In the spring of 1997 the brick decking was added to complete the project financed with funds raised by District Gov. Dutch Craumer's Board.
The East Meadow Kiwanis Club provided funding for a new cabin to be constructed on the upper-level in the area behind Governor's Hall.
In the fall of 1996, after serving as the Executive Director for more than 10 years, Chris Henske resigned and left to explore new adventures in Australia, his wife Allison's homeland. He passed away approximately 10 years ago. The legacy that Chris left behind was remarkable. Although often criticized for his unorthodox and even rude management style, his tenacity brought the camp through some very dark years and eventually rekindled a new hope for its future.
1997 Sees Improvements and Changes to Board Leadership
1997 - Orlando Marrazzo Jr. becomes Foundation Board President. Marrazzo a New York State Supreme Court Judge is known for his calm demeanor and ability to find other Kiwanians to be dedicated to the Kamp and the Foundation. The loyalty shown to him by his friends and other Kiwanians is unparralled. For over 40 years Marrazzo has dedicated his life to service through Kiwanis, under his direction Kamp Kiwanis underwent a phenomenal rebirth. Marrazzo served as Board President for 10 years and had to step down due to his Judgeship. He is honored with the title President Emeritus.
In the spring of 1997 the entire roof of the dining hall was removed and replaced. The side walls of the dining hall were raised and new windows were added along the side facing the administrative building. The dining area had been widened and the kitchen area extended along the north wall to the pavilion area.
Another major change which greeted campers was the completed East Meadow Cabin. The new dual-occupancy cabin was constructed with funds provided by the East Meadow Kiwanis Club. The unique design of this cabin allows two independent groups to occupy each half.
Also during the winter months additional work was done on Governor's Hall. A stage was constructed in the Drama Center.
1998- The North American Ice Storm of 1998 (also known as Great Ice Storm of 1998) was a massive combination of five smaller successive ice storms in January 1998 that struck a relatively narrow swath of land from eastern Ontario to southern Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Canada, and bordering areas from northern New York to central Maine in the United States. It caused massive damage to trees and electrical infrastructure all over the area, leading to widespread long-term power outages. Millions were left in the dark for periods varying from days to several weeks, and in some instances, months. It led to 35 fatalities, a shutdown of activities in large cities like Montreal and Ottawa, and an unprecedented effort in reconstruction of the power grid. Kiwanian Mike Malark saw a need to help those in New York State and Montreal. He garnered support from the membership and sent 3 tractor trailers and 28 truck loads of supplies to those in Northern New York. The membership also sent 20 cords of wood to those in Montreal as people were freezing. This one natural disaster began the third program of the Foundation, the Disaster Relief Program.
This year the Foundation Board saw the need to remodel the Lower Bathhouse to make a handicap accessible Cabin and build a new Bathhouse. Plans were drawn in 1998 and work continued on the bath house until it’s completion in 2000.
2000- Lake Janis Dedicated in Loving Memory to Former First Lady Janis Calabrese Wife of Past Governor Robert "Bob" Calabrese ('85-'86) Dedicated May 6, 2000.
In 2000 Governor John Gridley made Pediatric Lyme Disease his Governors Project. The Lt. Governor of the Bronx Westchester Division, Joe Wuest’s granddaughter Brittany came down with Lyme’s Disease and brought the issue to the Governor. In this year, the NY District Kiwanis Foundation accepted funds for the Pediatric Lyme Disease Emergency Relief Fund. It was a success and Governor Gridley felt strongly about the project and started a separate foundation called the Pediatric Lyme Disease Foundation. The Lyme Disease Foundation was established to help pay for medical treatment for children with this disease. This foundation continues today and has distributed more than $500,000.00.
2001- Nancy Ann Nowak served an Executive Director of Kamp Kiwanis for the 2001-04 seasons. During her four seasons at Kamp Kiwanis, she oversaw many improvements at the Kamp, including the installation of a new pool, the construction of new cabins, and the growth of the Adult program.
This year saw the completion of the remodeling of the lower bathhouse into Cabins 16/17. The Chinatown Kiwanis Club sponsored this build. The Chinatown Kiwanis Club is still an active supporter of the Foundation.
"Pete's Pool" Dedicated
2002 -In the spring of 2002, a new pool replacing the one which had been built in 1976 was dedicated. Built in the same location as the old pool, it was dedicated to the memory of Pete Haller as a result of a gift from his family. Haller was the brother of Steve Haller, who served many years on the board of the New York District Foundation. Peter Haller was an insurance executive who spent his life in the New York City area.
After Pete's death, the family started a foundation in his memory.
"Uncle Steve (Haller) told us about Kamp Kiwanis and the need for a new pool, everything seemed to fall into place," said Haller's daughters just before the pool opened.
The September 11 attacks (also referred to as 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda on the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. The destruction of the World Trade Center and nearby infrastructure caused serious damage to the economy of Lower Manhattan and had a significant effect on global markets, resulting in the closing of Wall Street until September 17 and the civilian airspace in the U.S. and Canada until September 13. Due to the destruction the Foundation enacted the Disaster Relief program. With a $100,000.00, 3 year grant from Kiwanis International, the Foundation awarded survivors of the attacks $3,000.00 grants. The Foundation also chose to send children of the victims to Kamp Kiwanis for free from 2012-2014.
Dining Hall named for Frank D'Orazi
2003 -During his many years of service as vice president of the District Foundation, the Kamp's kitchen and dining hall was a favorite project of Frank D'Orazi, a Distinguished Past Lt. Gov. of the Queens West Division. In the spring of 2003, the dining hall renovation was completed in addition to enclosing the Governor’s Hall, the dining hall was named in his memory, just a few months after his death. The D'Orazi Dining Hall is near the John Gaglione Field, a fitting relationship since the two men worked for so many years together on the Foundation board.
New Infirmary and New Executive Director
2005 -In June of 2005 a new Infirmary was dedicated. Work on the Infirmary had begun in the summer of 2004. Built as an addition to the Administration building, the project resulted in an Infirmary with adequate treatment and office areas, living quarters for the Kamp nurse and even an isolation room. On June 11, the infirmary was dedicated in the memory of Domenic Sciarrotta, past president of the Peninsula Hewlett Kiwanis Club, Past Lieutenant Governor of the Long Island Southwest Division, and past member of the District Foundation Board of Directors.
Due to state Department of Health Guidelines Kamp is forced to put into place a new Ultra-violet light disinfecting system. This endeavor costs the Foundation $25,000.00.
The cost of a child kampership is $335.00 and $70.00 bussing and the cost of an adult kamper is $550.00 and $100.00 bussing.
Rebecca Lopez Clemence began work as the Executive Director in January of 2005. She came to work for the Foundation after working in several for-profit and not-for-profit summer camps. For several years Rebecca worked for the Girl Scouts and directed two camps under their name. It was here that Rebecca truly began to appreciate working for non-profits organizations that also had a mission of service to others. In 2005 she had just left another not-for-profit camp that disbanded and brought 25 staff with her from the previous camp to work at Kamp Kiwanis. That year several staff worked strictly as volunteers, many of those staff stayed to work at Kamp for several years showing great dedication, including her now husband, Camp Director Luke Clemence. New programming immediately went into place. In her tenure over 2 million dollars of work has been put into the property, with short and long range plans for future improvements in place. Her tenure was the longest Executive Director of Kamp's History. She worked for the Foundation until November 2020.
International President Visits
2006 –Seeing the need to serve those who serve in the Military, Kamp acquires a grant from Kiwanis International to serve children of the Military at Kamp Kiwanis. The Foundation is awarded this grant for 2 years. The foundation continues this program still. Notably, during 2010 Governor Mike Malark raises funds to send over 100 children of the Military to Kamp.
It was raining on May 6, 2006, for the annual Kamp Kiwanis Open House but the spirits were high, bolstered by the participation of Kiwanis International President Steve Siemens, who inspired those present.
The Foundation Board votes for an increase in Kamp tuition. The cost to send a child is $400.00 tuition and $100.00 bussing and $650.00 tuition for an adult and $100.00 bussing.
Walk for a Child’s Dream, another International President Visits and New Board President
2007 – Sal Anelli was elected to the office of Foundation Board President when President Marrazzo stepped down. Sal began his love of Kamp Kiwanis when he visited in May of 1998, he visited as part of the new class of Lt. Governors for New York District Governor, Jim Yochum (Jim’s Giants). The Kamp struck him as having a great potential. During that year he served as the district board liaison to the Foundation. After being asked by President Lindy Marrazzo to run for the position of Foundation Board member he was elected at the annual meeting in Aug. 1999. He is known for his dedication to his diligence in ensuring the financial stability of the Foundation. During his 20 plus years of my involvement with the Foundation his focus has been to keep the Kamp in top operating condition to better serve the children and adults that attend.
Past Foundation President Orlando "Lindy" Marrazzo was honored by having the Kamp’s recently expanded Administration Building dedicated to him. Marrazzo, the foundation board president for 10 years was surprised with the dedication. In making the dedication, Anelli praised Marrazzo not only for his efforts on behalf of the Kamp, but his ability to both get others behind the projects at the Kamp and his willingness to support others who proposed development projects there.
In an effort to reach more Kiwanians the Board puts out a Video that showcases the Kamp. This video is used for a decade to reach Kiwanians and new campers.
Due to a push from the Department of Health, the Kamp is forced to build a new fishing dock. This fishing dock was installed by Board Members Mike Siniski, Mike Malark and Bill Jackson with the help of Kiwanians from the Suffolk East Division, the materials were als donated by clubs in the Suffolk East Division
The major construction project at the Kamp was the renovation of the Upper Bath House. Shown above is the renovated bath house, a transformation from the dark, worn-out area that campers used in years past. Bright tiles and glass block walls that let in light make sure the area is attractive. The project was so large that the two halves of the building were each dedicated. The left area was dedicated to honor the efforts of Past Gov. Robert Calabrese and New York State Sen. James Alesi, both members of the Penfield-Perinton Kiwanis Club, to raise money for the project, including Alesi's efforts in obtaining a state grant to assist the work. Board Member Anthony Merendino and Executive Director Rebecca L. Clemence worked for months garnering this $50,000.00 grant. The right area was dedicated to the memory of Sonny and Carmella Battista, parents of Joseph Battista, who organized the volunteers who completed the renovation.
The Foundation’s longtime Secretary becomes Governor and chooses Kamp Kiwanis as his project. Governor J. Donald Herring decides to carry out a state-wide 5k walk, with Kamp Kiwanis being one of the locations. Kiwanians and SLP’s from all over the state participate and raise over $20,000.00 for the Foundation. International President Dave Curry participates in the 5k at Kamp Kiwanis.
President Emeritus Lindy Marrazzo known for finding champions of Kamp Kiwanis enlists the assistance of a local Staten Island Contractor Herb Chan owner and operator of Champion Construction. Herb later becomes a Foundation Board Member and makes his mark with new construction at the Kamp. He and his business completes much of the new construction that is commissioned from this date forward in kind, without charge.
2009-Seeing the need for a large cabin in Upper Kamp or Girls Hill. The Patchogue Kiwanis Club donates the funds to build a new Cabin. The cabin sleeps 28 girls and has the space to add a bathroom at a later date. The Patchogue Club decides in 2017 to also fund the bathroom to make it handicap accessible and work has begun on the new bathroom. The bathroom will be open for use in the 2018 summer season.
The cost of a child kamper is $425.00 tuition and $100.00 bussing and the adult tuition is $650.00 and $150.00 bussing.
Cabin 3 is rebuilt as a model for what each cabin renovation will look like, the funds raised for this, were raised by the Staten Island Kiwanis Club.
2010 – Due to an outbreak of bed bugs in NYC, kampers bring bed bugs with them to the property, completely destroying Cabin 16/17, the Chinatown Cabin. The entire cabin is taken down to the studs and rebuilt.
Marina and Staff Room Dedicated and Bequests
2011 - The marina at Kamp Kiwanis was dedicated to Past Gov. Jim Yochum. In addition to being past governor, Yochum served many years as the treasurer of the New York District Foundation, and had served in many other roles during his years in Kiwanis.
Lucinda Hunt-Stowell, daughter of Clayton Hunt Jr., a member of the Brighton Kiwanis Club who passed away, presented two bequests of $50,000 each on behalf of her father. $50,000 was donated to Kamp Kiwanis and $50,000 was donated to the Kiwanis International Foundation. On hand to receive the donation to the International Foundation was Jack Harten, president of the International Foundation and a member of the Webster Kiwanis club.
The staff room at the Kamp was dedicated in honor of the Shaker High School Key Club, which annually makes a large donation to the Kamp. Shaker High is in Latham. A plaque has been mounted outside the room marking the club's support.
New Arts and Crafts Shack and Superstorm Sandy
2012 -At the 2012 Kamp Open House, a new Arts and Crafts building was dedicated. The Arts and Crafts Shack is equipped with storage, lots of working space and rest rooms; the facility is a major upgrade from what had previously existed nearby. The building was paid for by Board President Sal Anelli's home club The Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge Kiwanis Club and was ready for the start of the camping season. Work on the building continued throughout Open House, with the sign over the door being hung just before the dedication took place.
2012/2013 was a rough season for the state of New York and the Foundation. Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey and New York, Its storm surge hit New York City on October 29, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. Because a large number of the funds come from down state, Kamp suffered a large drop in donations due to the storm. The Disaster Relief program was never needed more. The program headed by PG Mike Malark enacted in full swing with trucks going all over the state to garner supplies for those in need. Notably the Kiwanians in Staten Island set up a command center to distribute supplies and food. Due to Donations from all over the World, the Foundation was able to offer grants in the amount of $1,000.00 to needy NY District Kiwanians to help them rebuild. It also provided for summer camp opportunities to those affected.
New Library Dedicated
2013 -At the 2013 Kamp Open House, a new Kamp Library was dedicated. Called the Discovery Center, it was paid for by the Queens West Division Foundation; it houses not just a library but a game room, tables for Arts and Crafts and a space for those needing some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of camp life. The new Library at Kamp Kiwanis was dedicated on Saturday, May 18, during the Kamp's annual Open House. Past Gov. Ed McGowan, played a key role in the formation of the Queens West Division Foundation. The foundation donated $50,000 to pay for the construction of the library. The library replaces an alcove in Governor's Hall with a larger structure with more space for books and other features that previously weren't available. The Minisink Valley Club also brought an estimated 1,200 books to help stock the expanded facility. Others also brought materials for the library to the open house.
Cabin 4 is rebuilt in the name of PLTG Al Federico of the Richmond County Kiwanis Club, Board Member Herb Chan completing the bulk of the work.
2015 – Seeing the need for the remodeling of cabins, Kiwanian Kyle Hoffman of the Staten Island Club decides to tear down and rebuild Cabin 11. He later installs air conditioning in the Governors Hall and the Kamp Administration Building.
2017 –The Kamp program has operated on the same programs for several years. The Kamp has offered in the past Nature, Arts & Crafts, Aquatics, Music/Dance/Drama and Sports. In 2017, three new programs were added. They include biking, gardening and anti-bullying. The anti-bullying program is one presented by Foundation Board Member Keith Cummings, who drives upstate each Wednesday from Staten Island to present.
2017 also boasted the beginning of the remodel of the Kamp Office and Staff Room. Board Member Herb Chan heads this process, donating supplies, funds and completing some of the work himself. The plan is to be complete by 2018.
The Digital Age
2018 –Going into the digital age is where the Foundation is headed for its 50th year Anniversary. The Foundation will boast a new website this year and will offer online applications for both campers and staff for the first time. The cost for a child kamper to attend is $465.00 tuition and $150.00 bussing. The cost for an adult is $795.00 tuition and $200.00 bussing.
Tom Poccio becomes the new VP of the Foundation Board.
The Foundation Board makes the choice to make a commitment to be proactive and begins the 50th year of the Foundation with their First Annual Board Retreat. The Board had educational sessions presented by E.D. Rebecca L. Clemence and the Board makes short and long term planning and goals.
The Board of the Foundation includes the Governor, the immediate past Governor, the Governor-Elect, the District Secretary, a non-voting Treasurer, a representative of the Rome Kiwanis Club, a Lt. Governor elected by it’s current board, an at-large member and nine other Kiwanians elected for three-year terms at District Kiwanis Conventions. There are also several committee members. Each working to complete our mission.
Board member Herb Chan takes it upon himself to ensure major improvements are made to the infrastructure of the property. Taking on many projects, the largest being the start of replacing all the roofs of all the buildings on the property, at times personally encompassing all financial responsibility for some of the new roofs.
Major Donations and Covid-19 make their Impact
On November 17, 2018, Kiwanian PDLTG Ivan Tarnopoll passes away. Upon his death he leaves the Foundation a gift of over $500,000.00. This gift allows the Foundation to pay all debt off including the mortgage on the property. For the first time in recent history the Foundation is debt free. It also allows the Foundation to place an $100,000.00 Emergency Fund into place and do some major improvements. The Kamp replaces the central portion of the blacktop to ensure handicap accessibility. Plans are also in place to dedicate a new Amphitheatre in 2022.
Board member Herb Chan continues his improvements of the Kamp property and completely guts the Lower Bathhouse and rebuilds it.
In January of 2020, the Covid-19 Pandemic hits the US, and as of November 2020 over 240,000 people have died in the US and over 33,000 deaths in NY. On March 16, 2020, the Foundation decides to close Kamp for the 2020 season.
In May of 2020, the Foundation receives a substantial donation from the Kiwanis Club of Maspeth. This donation allows the Foundation to make major improvements to the Kamp to include roofing and siding on the remainder of cabins, the replacement of the generator for upper Kamp, an additional generator for lower Kamp, repair of the dam wall, paving on a large portion of the property, bridge repair, new steps, BBQ Pavilion, new stairs to the cistern, fencing repair and some operating funds. The Foundation decides to make additional improvements due to the down time, so Kamp Director Luke Clemence and Maintenance Man Duke Westcott (Team Luke and Duke) remodel the Health Center, the Dining Hall, the Kitchen and all the upper Girls Hills Cabins. During this time ED Rebecca builds a new website, Kamp Store and new Maps. Kamp's first ever Cookbook is also published and sold for $20.00.
In October of 2020 the Pandemic does not look to be letting up, a vaccine is still in the works. People are continuing to get ill and new lockdown restrictions are being put into place. At the Foundation Board Meeting, the Board decides with the recommendation of the ED to close the Kamp for an additional season and lay off both full-time employees. Luke and Rebecca Clemence leave Kiwanis after 16 years of employment. ED Rebecca Lopez Clemence's tenure is the longest Executive Director in Kamp Kiwanis History.
Kamp continues to strive to make improvements to the property and looks forward to a 2022 summer season.
In 1994 the New York District Kiwanis Foundation dedicated the observance of its 25th Anniversary Year (1993-94) to the memory of Past First Lady Janis Calabrese. A journal published in her honor as part of that observance contained an article, "The History of Kamp Kiwanis" by James McGrath, Foundation Historian and The 2018 New York Kiwanis Foundation 50th Anniversary Journal.
Contributing to the effort were Steve Haller, Robert A Calabrese, Stephen H. Hart, John H. Meyer, Robert L. Teamerson, Chris Henske, Jerry Hennessy, Donald Miekam, Jack A Tetamore, John J. Harten, Larry Hapgood, Tony Palangi, John G. Gaglione Norman Sturdevant, Martin Toombs, Kim Scharoff, Sal Anelli and Rebecca L. Clemence.