This site is in the building stages. It will hopefully be a "everything" type page for friends, campers, staff and just about anyone interested in Camp Sea Haven which was located on the Parker River Wildlife refuge on Plum Island in Newburyport, Massachusetts from the 1940's to the 1980's. I hope it will turn out to be a great place to visit and get information, show some pictures, leave some messages and maybe meet some old friends.
As anyone who has been to the camp you have to start down a long and bumpy dirt road. Most people think they missed the camp!! The road from gate to camp is four miles from the refuge gate to the camp itself. And three more mile to the end of the insland.
CAMP SEA HAVEN was originally the late 1940's. Originally the camp consisted of just three buildings, Army barrack type. There also was a large Coast Guard building just up the hill from the beach. Later, with the help of several organizations along came a quanset hut, used as a gae room. A large dining hall (the Mess Hall) the generator shed, as we had to provide our own power. Reeber we were four mile from pretty much anything but water. The three barrack building were put together into a T shape, thus being called laet the T-Building and 12 cabins with small bathrooms, and bunk beds to sleep on. And then the adition of the swimming pool completed the grounds. The quanset hut disappeared in the 1960's and the Coast Guard building was torn down after a winter storm in the mid 1970's.
The Camp was founded by Daniel Harrington and his wife Charlotte from Bradford and Haverhill, Massachusetts. My Harrington was a polio survivor who wanted to see a camp established for children with polio, as there weren't too many camps for the disabled then. With the help of many generious friends and organization like the Kiwanis Clubs, the camp beacame a reality. He was assisted with the camp by his son Danial and his family. After Mr. Harrington died his dream stayed alive with his wife and son taking over. Dan Harrington brought his family and it became a family effort. They had their "Summer Home" in part of thye Coast Guard Building. The rest of the space was used for staff, shower room and the outlook on the top. And the biggest part of the building where the used to keep boats became the Arts & Crafts room, all painted with hundreds of pictures and signatures by staff and campers from floor to the very high ceiling. Mrs. Charlotte Harrington was the overseer and Daniel became the director. The first cabin in the large circle was for thew nurse. The only one I ever recall was Mrs. Stephenson, a kind but straight forward nurse, especially when it came to cabin inspection!! Alice Cavilarrio of North Andover, Massachusette was the cook, and what a cook. When you left camp you Gained weight! She was a special cook and made sure everybody ate, even if you didn't care for what the meal was, she fed you. And when she spoke, you listened!! You will find me referring to these folks here and there, so you better be paying attention. The Harringtons continued to run the camp until the late 1960's and with myself being the last actual polio survivor there, the family concluded that the camp had served it intended purpose. The camp was then turned over the Greater Boston Cerebral Palsy Association and continued on from there.
The camp now running under the C.P. was going full bloom. Each session was for two weeks with the occassional lucky one or two getting to stay longer. There were foour to five campers and two staff per cabin. Frank Fuller was the executive director assisted by several others over the years. Jack Mooney, Jim Mitchell, The Fuller family, Mark Hickey, Kevin Lynch and Ji Kimball, plus many others. It took quite a staff to keep thing rolling at the camp. The majority of campers now were wheelchair bound. A vast majority of the campers now came from hospitals, group homes, nursing facilities mostly around the Eastern Massachusetts area. How ever some campers cae from Maryland, New York and California to nae a few. The camp took a lot of campers that had no other camps specially equiped for the vast degree of disabilities. It took a special staff and we had that! Staff came from all over and many started young and stayed a few years, with several going into the health field after their stint at camp. As we all know, nothing can last forever. 1987 was the last year the camp was opened. It stayed abandoned for a while outside of a few winter squaters, looking for a place to stay out of the weather! An arson set fire took down the T-Building on March 10, 1989. No one was ever charged but a few unmentioned folks had some pretty good ideas. Shortly after that, the town of Rowley which claimed domain, along with pieces of Newbury, Newburyport and Ipswich, decided the camp was a fire hazzard! Way out there on the beach mind you. They decided to burn the camp down. After several unsuccessful trys, they had to actually fill the building up with hay before it burnt down to the ground. A touching note though, as the camp burned, a firefighter from the Newbury Volunteer Fire Departent along with Smokey Taylor, played the beaten up piano that was donated to the camp in 1953. I still have the little brass plaque that was on it. Thus, the official physical end to Camp Sea Haven.
7:30AM WAKE UP
8:15AM FLAG RAISING/BREAKFAST
9:15A CABIN INSPECTION
9:30AM Cabin 2,3 POOL STAFF
Cabin 4, 5, 6 Arts & Crafts STAFF
Cabin 7, 8, 9, Music & Drama STAFF
Cabin 10 , 11 Sports & Games STAFF
10:45AM Cabin 2,3 Arts & Crafts STAFF
Cabin 4,5,6 Pool STAFF
Cabin 7,8,9 Sports & Games STAFF
Cabin 10,11 Music & Drama STAFF
11:45AM Clean Up
12:45PM Rest Hour
1:30PM Cabin 2,3,4,5 Beach Time STAFF
Cabin 6,7,8 Nature Walk STAFF
Cabin 9,10,11 Pool STAFF
4:30PM Rest/Clean up
6:00PM Free Time
7:00PM Evening Program-Oldies Dance
9:30PM Bed Time
9:45PM Cabin Duty STAFF
DAILY ACTIVITIES: The daily activities at camp were broken down for the most part into groups. There qas Arts & Crafts, (of wich I was the first staff ever asked to transfer to another group, and who would know that 15 years later I would open my own hand made craft items called Sea Haven Crafrts!) Music & Drama, which worked alot on our talents shows, Sports & Games, which included the Camp Olympics, Pool And Beach, and Science and Nature with nature walks and more. There were many other activities over the years. Fox & Hound, King Of The Hill, Capture The Flag, Trucks and swings, (for the younger capers) Softball on the beach and the Mosquito Bowl which was downhill from the edge of the barracks. Playing softball on the beach once I slipped and fell and saw that my crutch had landed on a Skate. Games, Kites, Womans Daytie Dramas, also known as soaps(th opnly time when tv was allowed. Also allowed one year during the Olympic Games) and movies, Brian's Song was the ladys choice and Three Stooges for guys. EVENING PROGRAMS: We had many different programs including dances, games, music and other trivia games, bingo, ovies, talent shows, magic shows, sing-a-longs-, bonfires,Name That Tune and a session ending banguet. SPECIAL EVENING PROGRAM QUESTS; Music Concerts-The Vi-Counts, Ed Hastings Band, Titus Donna & Jaye, The Barbershop Quartets, Back Porch and Dick Brindle. Dances, The Walter Jackson Band, Ed McGee Travelling Record Show, The Wizard Of Music, Old Pops, and Shamus. Others, Shriners Clowns, Great Scott Magic Show, Newbury Fire Dept. with Smokey Taylor,(any one remember a purple person?). SPECIAL FULL DAY EVENTS, The Olympics, Kiwanis Day Cookouts, Sunday Visitors Day & Pool Show, Camp Board Appreciation Day, Pirate Day, Christmas In July (with a poor soul in a Santa Suit), 4TH of July, Halloween Day, Celtics Day, And Waterfront Day (which started out as a water fight during rest hour! Also Staff marathons and Volleyball matches(any one remember the Wrecking Crew?) FIELD TRIPS,Benson's Wild Animal Farm, Salisbury Beach Clubs, and Rides, Hampton Club Casino Night and Casino Concerts, several circusus, (got to ride an elephant twice!) Plum Island Airport Airshow, Boston Auto. Museum and Boston Aquarieum, Captain's Fishing Trips, Boston Red Sox Games and Ladies Exotic Club Night Out!!
Of course anyone going to the camp will be sure to encounter lots of wildlife. There were seagulls and pipens and terns and othe flying birds. Then possum, raccoons, deer, which a few auto's encountered. Chipmunks, mice and of course our ever friendly skunks who went pretty much where they wanted. Only one people spraying that can be recalled, and that was a refuge officer. Sorry Chris. Now let's turn to the insect world! Horse flies, mosquitos, gnats, sand fleas, bees, hornets, house flies, spiders and of course everybodys favorite, "THE GREENHEAD FLY", which we all remember with vile thoughts. Actually the Greenhead was the officail insect of plum island.
As with any camp, Camp Sea Haven had it's share of tid bit information. Right from the beach at low tide it was possible to see up to 8 shipwrecks including parts right on the beach. These shipwrecks also brought out a favorite of many, Mortimor. Our camp ghost. Reason has it he died in one of the shipwrecks and made it to the beach and decided to hang out there. There were several reports of his michief over the years. In the early days the Newbury fire departent used to come down the beach on their half track and fill the pool with sea water. At one point there used to be a walkway but that disappeared in the late 60's. It used to take a full weekend on a bobcat to shovel out all of the sand that drifted in over the winter. The pool had a nice ramp on it to take in the chairs. But that came about from a mistake and thought. The pool was being dug out when the bobcat took a chunk out of the edge of the pool. A few thoughts, some concrete, paint and there was the ramp! For someone with the desire, the basement from the old Coast Guard building still remains. They just filled over it instead of removing it. Bet ya there are some interesting things in there! I still have a pretty good idea where if anyone feels abitious! There used to be folks that came in to do worship services. But in the 60's for a time they used to load up a pickup truck and TRUCK us to church. That old pickup also served as a parade float one year for Yankee Homecoming. Several people made a beautiful paper mache model of the camp and it won a prize. Most of the buildings there were made out of milk cartons. And of course another long standing tid bit was the supposed existance of a camp overseer, whos job was to make sure staff played right. Of course you couldn't ask or accuse, but most everyone remember a Mr. X. Fun for all!? And of course there was the mystery of the stolen bell. After the season ended in 1968 or 1969 the bell that used to sit in the center of the circle and ring to announce the changing of programs, somehow managed to disappear. It was on the pavement next to the dinning hall one minute, and then it was gone. Nobody to this day knows who made of with a 150 pound bell, though someone once claimed they spotted it somewhere in New Hampshire.
STAFF BOO-BOO'S ETC. At a camp, located where Sea Haven was there are bound to be certain odds and ends that can happen to staff. No names mantioned! Several deer hit by autos-no personal harm, staff member slipping and falling on wet ramp cut head open-hosp., member shaking pool light until part fell and hit on head-cut, no hosp. Several refuge issued dirt road speeding violations, several staff being invited to the Newbury police station to chat, staff member falling from rafters-hosp., staff catching knee under wheelchair playing, hosp., staff member almost hanging self in haunted house, large surprise rufuge police visit to one cabin porch at night, rufuge police chase and capture of known rapist at gun point with two younger staff members in vehicle. Motorboat accidnet during session break send 6 staff to hosp. all returnded with days. CAMPER AWARDS: Camper of the Day-daily, Honor Cabin for cleanest cabin daily, Cabin Award for cleanest cabin for session, King and Queen, Prince and Princess for session ending banquets, Red Cross Swim Certificates, in the 60's lesson were taught at the pool and campers got awards from beginner to jr. lifesaver. Sr. lifesaver was available for staff. Polar Bear, for going in the pool at least once everyday regardless of the weather, and finally a camp t-shirt, (and in 60's) a felt camp arm patch and small pennant.