Raising The Roof At Kiddie Keep Well Camp

by Kiddie Keep Well Camp Board President Stanley E. Lease

I have been involved with Middlesex County Recreation Council Kiddie Keep Well Camp for the last 15 years.  It has long been a destination for families to send their children to experience a traditional summer camp at no cost.  The Board and I are proud to announce the “Raise the Roof Campaign”; a $300,000 capital campaign – the most ambitious project Kiddie Keep Well Camp has done in a long time.  Incorporated over 89 years ago, Kiddie Keep Well Camp is now facing the reality of aging buildings with the demand of a growing number of programs and campers. It is time for Kiddie Keep Well Camp to move forward to meet the new expectations.

I am thrilled to announce that this fall, we have begun our first phase of “Raise the Roof”; a capital campaign to build, renovate and improve the physical space that holds our growing camp community, most importantly by building a new Health Center.

Our current Health Center has been in existence since the early 40’s, when Kiddie Keep Well Camp hosted less than 100 campers a summer. Now that Kiddie Keep Well Camp hosts as many as 650 campers a summer (plus summer staff and senior citizens), and runs and hosts programs year round, we find our health center and cabin facilities are antiquated, especially our Health Center, where the layout is not conductive for our health care providers or our families. Renovations to the existing building are not possible and the building must be replaced. DMR Architects and CME Associates have donated their services and designed the new building.

The camp began in 1924 through the ideals and dedication of Jane Packard Schirber and Dr. Charles Silk.  In 1928, under the Board Presidency of John E. Toolan, the aid of Robert Wood Johnson, President of the Johnson and Johnson Corporation was also enlisted.  Together, they spearheaded a drive that put an infirmary and a clinic on camp property.  Many of the buildings here at Kiddie Keep Well Camp, I believe, were obtained from Ft. Monmouth and moved to the site and set up by the County Building Trade Council; with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  During the Great Depression, when the need increased, The Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders came to the aid of the camp with funds and services.

The camp is now well into its second half-century of service and has major renovations that need to be made. The camp’s cabins will be upgraded and modernized, but the overall appearance of the camp will remain the same using the same footprint as the existing facilities. This will address the issue of preservation of the environmental and quaintness aspects of our camp. I know from experience that investing in Kiddie Keep Well Camp is more than making a donation to build and renovate the facilities. We are making a difference in the lives of children and young people that will last for an eternity. Your partnership helps preserve our rich history while paving the way for a future that will allow the next generation to enjoy a traditional camp. I am committed to maintaining a strong financial management and remaining debt-free, so construction will proceed only when we have reached our goal of $300,000.00. There are naming opportunities to memorialize your philanthropic investment, or to honor a family member, friend or other loved one.

So I ask you to support our campaign. If you are interested in making a capital campaign gift, please call the camp office at 732-548-6542 or email info@kiddiekeepwell.org so we can contact you to schedule a time to discuss the campaign and work together to make a difference.

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