Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Vanishing Adirondack Children's Camps
There is something paricularly special about having a children's summer camp in your town. In the summer, you see the canoe convoys pass by the dock, and hear the distant shouts and laughter of kids enjoying the Adirondacks. You see the ski boat drive by, circling with the latest kid trying to get up for the first time. We used to see these things and more when Camp Eagle Cove was operating in Inlet. My mother worked as a lifeguard there many years ago and I once thought of attending camp there for a summer. After Eagle Cove closed, it became a camp for sick children, then an Adirondack campus of the Florida college, Lynn University. After Lynn University closed the Adirondack Center, the property was sold to Dawn Timm and her husband, local realtors, for development. Years later, not a single home has been built. The little cabins are rotting away and the massive dining hall is sagging; the whole place looks sad and depressed. I wish that property could become a haven for artists, writers, musicians, students, like Yaddo, who need a place to work and to be inspired. I wish we still had those kids sitting around the campfires telling stories and waterskiing by the dock. In addition to the vanishing summer camps, I see over and over again the dreamers who come with their dream of owning a little Adirondack shop, their own business, and making it work. It could be a good life and it is for some. But in Old Forge, I see these places open with all the excitement and optimistic verve in the world only to appear on the real estate website a year later -- for sale, motivated seller. It is so difficult to run a business in the Adirondack Park, whether a summer camp or a gift shop, and I don't know what the right equation is to make a business succeed there. Few people seem to have figured it out.