‘Every day is an adventure’

>Amherst tries out summer teen program

AMHERST – Day camp can be fun for children, but teens and pre-teens need more from a camp experience, and the Am­herst Recreation Depart­ment has found that some­thing more.

This summer, for the first time, the town is of­fering what it calls Adven­ture Teen Camp, which combines community ser­vice, leadership training and adventurous fields trips.

So far the kids have been rock climbing, boat­ing, mountain climbing and traveled to Water Country and to the Six Flags amusement parks.

They have also helped build trails and bridges with the Amherst Conser­vation Commission and participated in leadership skill-building training.

And "the icing on the cake," said Recreation Director Craig Fraley, is an overnight camping and whitewater rafting trip on the Kennebeck River in Maine.

But before they have their cake, there are veg­etables to eat, in the form of community service projects.

Fraley, who has been the town recreation direc­tor for two years, brought the Adventure Teen Camp program from a previous job, he said, and adapted it to Amherst.

On a recent Monday morning, about nine young campers and their coun­selors were bused from the Peabody Mill Environmen­tal Center to a trail-head on Austin Road where members of the town Con­servation Commission were building a bridge on conservation land.

But before they started down the Bicentennial Trail, the teens and their counselors listened to a talk on trail safety and etiquette from Wes Rob­ertson, of the Conserva­tion Commission, with a focus on being stewards of the land.

"We want to make sure they have a safe and educa­tional good time," he said.

Parents report that their children are "really, really, enjoying it," Fral­ey said, and they are com­ing home tired and happy.

One of the kids, Jack McLaughlin, an Amherst summer resident who will be in the eighth grader in Chicopee, Mass., said he is having a great time.

"Every day is like an adventure," he said. And "I’ve made lots of friends."