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A Summer Full of Stories

September 4, 2012

By David Martin

So what’s the common denominator between an urban playground/athletic field across the street from a closed paper mill – which is being converted into a biomass-fueled power plant – and a woodsy camp with rustic cabins and a dining hall that serves jambalaya?

You guessed it. KIDS and BOOKS!

In just one day last month, I got to go to downtown Berlin, NH and backwoods Copper Canyon Camp in Franconia, NH to tell stories and give books to all the kids courtesy of CLiF.

It’s been quite a CLiF summer for me. I went to seven locations in northern Vermont and New Hampshire – all different, all special, all with boxes of books.

And at every spot, the kids were more than eager to get to look over all the books and pick two special ones for themselves. Well, everyplace except for Richford, VT, which had severe thunderstorms the morning I came that kept all but a few campers away.

Of all the places I visited this summer, the one that touched my heart the most was Copper Canyon Camp, and that’s because of the story behind the story there.

At first it looked like a regular backwoods camp, and in most ways, it is. But then I found out why it’s in existence. It seems that long ago, in the 1920’s I think, the camp’s founder, a boy in a very poor Midwest family, got sent with his mother and father to a family camp in Minnesota. He said it was the first time he’d ever seen his mother smile and was the first time he’d ever had three meals a day.

It made such a difference that he vowed that if he ever made it, he’d find a way to pay back. Now move ahead to 1967 when, after making it big time, he bought the land by the Gale River in Copper Canyon and started a camp that all New Hampshire children who fall below a certain income level can attend for one week for free. FREE! And that includes transportation to and from the camp.

Copper Cannon has been running ever since then and is supported through grants and other sources. And what a staff, including some counselors from Scotland and New Zealand.

A sweet crew. A sweet story.

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