Police investigate vandalism at Camp Claire

Lyme — As volunteers converge on Camp Claire this weekend for an annual cleanup day to ready the campgrounds for the summer season, they will face a camp damaged by a recent act of vandalism.

Police are investigating an incident earlier this month at the camp by Hamburg Cove that left several buildings damaged. Sometime between April 2 and April 9, several buildings were burglarized and vandalized, resulting in broken windows and television sets, according to a state police report.

The unknown vandal or vandals appears to have broken into staff housing, the nurse's and director's cabins, the boathouse, and the arts and crafts facility, said Camp Claire Director Beth Owen-Mishou. They shattered at least one window in each of those buildings, slashed screens and broke five television sets used for staff training or for rainy-day movies for campers. The wooden side paneling in one of the camper's cabins was ripped off, but the other bunk cabins were left untouched.

Owen-Mishou estimates that replacing the windows alone will cost $3,000. She said the camp is a nonprofit that breaks even, so an incident like this can have a big impact.

The camp typically does some crowd-sourcing on its website to raise funds and holds a benefit dinner in May, but was trying to raise funds for its pool, which was already in need of repair.

In light of the incident, several alumni have volunteered to help out at the camp or donate items, and the camp's Facebook page shows many comments in support of the camp. This weekend, volunteers will clean up the camp and assess the damage to prepare for campers in June.

"I am amazed at the outpouring of concern and surprised that people would do something like this," said Owen-Mishou.

"There's such a community atmosphere at camp, so everybody feels it," she said.

k.drelich@theday.com

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