Under the bright sun at Camp Simmons, eager campers lined the basketball court, awaiting the arrival of Santa who visits them every July. The jumping children hollered when the bright Greenwich fire truck rolled into camp and Santa in a fiery red costume climbed out of the front seat.
As Santa flung his arms up in greeting, the campers burst forward to welcome him. Candy canes rained down in all directions as jolly Santa hurled them towards the campers who rushed to snatch the sugary treats from the air.
The downpour of candy was soon replaced with showers of cool water from Santa’s firehose, soaking the campers and staffers alike. Santa even directed the hose towards me, leaving my clothes dripping. Next to me, CEO Bobby Walker Jr. laughed and announced “Welcome to Camp Simmons!”
This annual holiday tradition has gathered campers and the Greenwich Fire Department together to spread holiday cheer for the past 18 years. Secretly the staff look forward to the gift of candy and the joyful atmosphere of holiday spirit as much as the campers.
Cooling the camp’s summer days with winter spirit, this celebration offered pure joy to young kids anticipating the next December.“There’s nothing better than being a kid. Secondly, a kid in summer. And third, SANTA!? That’s a winning combination of joy right there,” revealed Boys and Girls Club Associate Director of Development Takeia McAlister. “They can go up and hug Santa. But they can also tell him what they want for the holidays, or just thank him.”
Though campers can experience the excitement of Christmas twice a year, the mix of holiday cheer, sugar, water, Santa Claus, and the camaraderie of camp created an adventure that many will remember long after their time at Camp Simmons.
“It’s really the spirit of the holidays that unites us to spend time with each other,” explained Art Director Michael Manning. Embodying that family spirit, the whole camp unified to prepare for Santa’s arrival and to welcome him for this fun outdoor activity.
The campers even transformed their anticipation for Christmas into building decorations in their arts and crafts classes. Using recycled materials, the campers along with Manning assembled a variety of decorations including a reindeer sleigh.
Camp Simmons’ Christmas in Summer broke up the summer days of canoeing, archery, swim lessons, field sports, basketball, baseball, fishing, and hiking at Camp Simmons.
“It’s a unique event that you probably won’t get anywhere else,” said staff members Peter and Carter Hughes. “Christmas is about making memories and so is camp.”
“There’s just grass, trees, sun, air, and fun,” said McAlister of the camp experience.
Throw in a visit from Santa, and it sounds like the ideal ingredients for summer fun.