Another summer camping institution, which is rich in history, is closing its doors.
Easter Seals Camp Hemlocks, which is located in Hebron, will close next month after serving disabled kids and adults for decades.
The board of directors of Easter Seals of Coastal Fairfield County told Eyewitness News it was a difficult financial decision.
The more than 100-acre facility, which sits on Jones Pond and offers a kayaking, camping as well as a therapeutic indoor pool, has been operating since 1974.
Members of the arthritis swim class said they were disappointed about the closing.
"There's nowhere else I can go," said Linda Blakita, of Colchester. "I'll have to drive all the way to Willimantic for the nearest pool and I understand it's not as nice as this one."
The decision to close Camp Hemlocks was a financial one, made last week by the board of directors of Easter Seals of Coastal Fairfield County.
"Closing Camp Hemlocks is a decision that was not made lightly, but after an extensive review, this was the best decision for the organization and the people we serve," said Dr. Roslyn Burton-Robertson, the executive director for board of directors of Easter Seals of Coastal Fairfield County, in a statement Wednesday.
The 25 people who serve the 500 summer campers, including chef Kirk Badeau, will now be out of work.
"The facility itself, what we do here, makes it what it is taking care of the kids and adults," Badeau said. "They love it here. They love the food - telling me they don't want to leave cause the food is so good."
There's an online petition drive on Facebook to try and keep the camp from closing. As of 4:30 p.m., the petition had 750 signatures.
Many former campers, who come from as far away as New Hampshire and Virginia, are commenting.
"This is so sad! I started at Hemlocks almost 30 years ago, as a camper," said Cheryl Price. "For the first time, I was in an environment where I was not 'different.'"
"My daughter's 'favorite place on earth', I don't know how I'll break the news to her," said Marybeth Griffin Petersen
The last day for employees is Nov. 1 and Camp Hemlocks will close Nov. 16.
Easter Seals of Coastal Fairfield County isn't saying what will happen to the property.
For more information on the camp closure, click here.
To sign the petition, to keep Camp Hemlocks open, click here.
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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