$427K to expand Camp Apex capacity in Shelburne

A newly poured concrete pad under the pavilion at Camp Apex in Shelburne. Thanks to $427,000 in congressionally directed spending, Camp Apex will continue a string of ongoing facilities upgrades.

A newly poured concrete pad under the pavilion at Camp Apex in Shelburne. Thanks to $427,000 in congressionally directed spending, Camp Apex will continue a string of ongoing facilities upgrades. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Franklin County’s YMCA CEO Grady Vigneau stands on a newly poured walkway to the new pool at Camp Apex in Shelburne. Thanks to $427,000 in congressionally directed spending, Camp Apex will continue a string of ongoing facilities upgrades.

Franklin County’s YMCA CEO Grady Vigneau stands on a newly poured walkway to the new pool at Camp Apex in Shelburne. Thanks to $427,000 in congressionally directed spending, Camp Apex will continue a string of ongoing facilities upgrades. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The entrance to Camp Apex off Peckville Road in Shelburne.

The entrance to Camp Apex off Peckville Road in Shelburne. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A newly poured apron of concrete connects the lodge and covered area with the bathhouse at Camp Apex in Shelburne.

A newly poured apron of concrete connects the lodge and covered area with the bathhouse at Camp Apex in Shelburne. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-15-2024 6:56 PM

SHELBURNE — Thanks to $427,000 in congressionally directed spending, Franklin County’s YMCA will renovate Camp Apex to expand its capacity, allowing more families, including those relying on financial aid or scholarships, to send their children to camp.

Camp Apex, located on more than 30 acres off Peckville Road, has been in operation for roughly 70 years. According to Franklin County’s YMCA CEO Grady Vigneau, the summer camp is able to host roughly 150 children each year.

The funding is making its way to the Y in middle of the nonprofit’s annual campaign, which raises money to expand financial access to its programs, as well as its child care services. Vigneau said with more spaces available at the camp, the Y will be able to accommodate more families from a more diverse range of economic backgrounds.

“If we can continue to grow this, then we want to focus on children who, without financial aid, would not be able to go to camp. There are children we have to turn away right now that can’t afford it. ... We know there are kids that we’d like to help that we just can’t accommodate, so that’s why we’re trying to grow the capacity,” he said. “We want to increase the diversity of children from all aspects, whether it be heritage, race, age or socioeconomic background.”

The funding will help Camp Apex continue a string of ongoing facilities upgrades. Last June, the Y replaced the camp’s more than 50-year-old swimming pool. It has since used a grant from the Amelia Peabody Foundation to create rain-friendly recreational structures equipped with ground cover and expanded some of its concrete pavilions, creating spaces for kids to play safely in the rain. Vigneau said he hopes to use some of the congressionally directed funds to renovate the camp’s bathrooms, showers and changing rooms.

The YMCA applied for the funding roughly 13 months ago. Vigneau said U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called him in August informing him that, for the first time, Franklin County’s YMCA was slated to receive congressional earmarks for Camp Apex as part of a fiscal year 2024 spending bill. When the bill passed in March, it included a total of $213.4 million for projects within Massachusetts.

“My colleagues and I are making sure the government is investing in working families and communities in Massachusetts, not for the wealthy and well-connected,” Warren said in a statement. “With this funding, people in Massachusetts are going to see a better commonwealth — with stronger health care systems, expanded early childhood opportunities, cleaner air and investments that will be felt right here in our communities.”

Given its 70-year-long standing, Vigneau referred to Camp Apex as something more than a summer camp. He said the program has become a staple of the community with a reputation for teaching young people valuable life skills.

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“If you ask somebody on the street, they probably went to Camp Apex. There’s generations of people who’ve been there and if they went to Camp Apex, they will invariably tell you it impacted and changed the arc of their lives for the better. It’s not just about summer fun up in the foothills, but it’s about community, it’s about learning, about inclusion and diversity. It’s leadership,” Vigneau said. “I mean, people learn how to swim up there, people learn crafts up there, people participate in archery, but it all wraps back around to great leadership, great mentors, great advocates. It just gives young people a sense of inclusion, a sense of belonging and a sense of self-worth.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.