DARIEN, Conn. -- The Darien Sail and Power Squadron took more than 100 local campers out on Long Island Sound on Friday for a day of boating in perfect summer conditions.
The Boat Camp, an annual tradition in Darien, was started in 1997 as a way to introduce under-privileged kids to the joys of boating. For many of the kids, it is the first time they have ever been out on a boat. The campers hail from Stamford and Norwalk and are part of Person-to-Person's Campership program.
A fleet of 23 boats was deployed from the Noroton Yacht Club to shuttle the kids around the Sound for the day. The boats were staffed by volunteers from the Sail and Power Squadron, as well as the Noroton Yacht Club, Sheffield Island, SoundWaters, the marine units of the Darien Police and Noroton Fire Departments, and other local boaters.
"You are the spirit of volunteerism within the boating community in this town that make things like this work," event organizer Frank Kemp told the assembled group of volunteers before the fleet set sail.
After casting off, the kids got a chance to sail to Sheffield Island off Norwalk, where they enjoyed the outdoors and explored the historic lighthouse. They also explored Five Mile River, Fish Island and Ziegler's Cove, where pirates blasted them with water guns.
"It was awesome. I really like the boat," said Nasir Pettigrew, 9, of Stamford. He said it was his first time on a boat, and he was hoping for a chance to steer before the day was over.
It was also the first time for Devin Negron, 9, who said that he liked when the Noroton Fire Department's boat blasted passers-by with the hose.
Michael Kraminsky, 10, said he has been on boats many times, but still loved getting to see the pirates.
The Darien Sail and Power Squadron has a strong commitment to education, said Commander Peter Kelly. The group regularly hosts courses and seminars on safety, seamanship, piloting, navigation and maintenance, as well as yearly refreshers every spring for people who are getting back in the water for the season.