Camp Totokett—A Life-Changing Camp for Both Campers and Counselors

“Camp Totokett is an experience like no other,” This summer, the Branford Community Foundation (BCF) was delighted to support Camp Totokett, a week-long camp for at-risk youth held at Killams Point in Branford, with a $6,000 grant. In 2018, Camp Totokett paired 43 kids from New Haven with more than 50 local youth counselors for an invaluable experience in service, social justice, and leadership.

“Camp Totokett is an experience like no other,” says Cole Chase-Beach, who has volunteered as a camp mentor for several years. “It has become a truly life-altering tradition for me. I can honestly say that Camp Totokett has allowed me to view life in a different light and be grateful for my existence as well as the existence of those around me.”

Camp Totokett provides a nurturing and supportive environment that offers children much needed respite from challenging homes or life events. The camp offers a week of fun and games, including arts and crafts, swimming and fishing, while also providing a safe place for campers and counselors alike to develop meaningful friendships. Children between ages 5 to 12 are paired with teenage counselors for a one-one-one companionship and mentorship that fosters a lifetime of positive memories.

“We were impressed with the number of Branford youth who volunteer to serve as counselors,” says Liza Janssen Petra, BCF Executive Director. “While sometimes underappreciated, the skills and experiences a mentor receives are just as valuable as those received by the camper. Student volunteers see firsthand the hardships faced by some of the campers, including poverty, hunger, and health issues. The long-term benefits carry far beyond the five days of camp—it becomes a touchstone of personal growth and meaning that participants carry for a lifetime.”

Tim Dinneen, Director of Camp Totokett, agrees. “There is no doubt that this experience affected the young adult counselors at the deepest levels,” he says, “broadening their perspectives, fostering empathy and compassion, and developing their leadership.”

The BCF grant supported daily transportation, new sets of water shoes for campers, and meals. Camp Totokett, in its 23rd year, sustains itself with a 100-person, all-volunteer staff and fundraising from a variety of sources.

To learn more about BCF and other important causes, visit our Ways to Give page or make a donation today.