Camp Seton remains a treasure and deserves our support

Greenwich-Voices-DadakisThey say that you can’t relive your youth, but two weeks ago I came close.

My good friend, Art Auch, invited me to tour the Greenwich Boy Scouts’ Ernest Thompson Seton Reservation here in town. Art, currently on their board, worked closely with the Greenwich Council for years as his son, Sam, participated.

I’ve known Sam his whole life. When he was little, we’d campaign together. He was my most diligent campaigner, never missing a chance to hand a potential voter a brochure or balloon while enthusiastically urging they vote Republican.  Now Sam’s off to college this fall after a life-enriching experience with Greenwich’s Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.

Eagle Scout is an enormous accomplishment. You never hear an Eagle Scout referred to in the past tense. No matter how old, he is always an Eagle Scout.

America’s greatest leaders are Eagle Scouts including President Ford, Neil Armstrong, Stephen Spielberg and Bill Gates.  Greenwich Schools Superintendent William McKerise is an Eagle Scout. Perhaps with McKersie in charge, Greenwich’s Boy Scouts will again be welcome at our schools after being banned by former Superintendent Betty Sternberg.

The last time I was at the reservation was for a Camporee when I was 14. When I arrived, I thought so much had changed. But by the time I left, I realized I was wrong. Sure there were improvements, but those 249 acres remain a refuge for boys to be boys, studying and respecting nature, learning archery, canoeing swimming and arts and crafts and making lifelong friendships while developing critical life skills of self-reliance and leadership. There wasn’t an Xbox anywhere.

The Greenwich Council’s Craig Jones and Kevin O’Shea escorted us explaining that summer weekday’s Camp Seton is a day camp for 200 kids aged 7 to 15 and being a scouting member isn’t even required. A day camp was a big change to me. When I attended we camped out for an entire week.

In hindsight a week of boys cooking their meals over a fire was probably pretty gross and living in tents was no picnic either, but we didn’t know better and we loved it. One year it rained all week and everything was wet and mildewed.  Now, as a day camp, on rainy days campers have a nice bed at home and dry clothes for the morning.

Camp Seton’s program is well structured for younger boys while older boys have more flexibility. Boy Scouts work on merit badges in the morning. I’d have loved that. I struggled to complete my badges since you needed Scout supervision, which wasn’t always available. In the afternoon the older boys select their own activities, of which there’s plenty to choose from.

Camp Seton isn’t just day camp. Practically every weekend, scout troops reserve the camp so their members can learn teamwork while honing their scouting skills.

The Greenwich council depends on donations for capital needs and some of their operating costs since camper and use fees don’t cover everything. And, walking around the reservation, the generosity of the Greenwich community is evident. There’s the Malcolm S. Pray III building, the Bob Nielsen building donated by Ray Dalio recognizing his boys’ scoutmaster and an incredible climbing wall donated by Camille and Craig Broderick. Even the impressive Viking stove in the mess was donated by a resident.

I left Camp Seton as a camper for the last time 40 years ago, but the Greenwich council still provides an amazingly unique experience. We’re fortunate to have an outstanding facility with dedicated staff in our community. If you’ve never seen it go check it out because Greenwich Boy Scouts is one of the things which makes Greenwich great.


Ed Dadakis is former chairman of the Republican Town Committee and has spent more than 30 years serving on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM). He may be reached at [email protected]

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