On May 13, something special was happening at Camp Harkness in Waterford. For the first time ever, team members from both local tribes and casinos came together for a day-long United Way Day of Caring project. More than 80 volunteers descended upon the camp in the early morning hours to pull on Live United t-shirts and dig into the soil.
But the day was simply a culmination of what was several weeks in the planning. Representatives from both tribes and casinos had been meeting in person and over the phone to plan the projects to be tackled and determine what equipment would be needed. The engineering departments were called in for their expertise. Equipment, from small gardening tools to large earth-moving vehicles, were provided by both groups. Mohegan Sun provided the breakfast while Foxwoods provided lunch.
Camp Harkness is dedicated for use by individuals with disabilities and their families and friends. Facilities at Camp Harkness include year-round and seasonal cabins, year-round cottages, seasonal tent sites, barnyard animals and horseback riding, picnic pavilions & grills, accessible playscape, scenic walkway and overlook, bathhouse, beach with seasonal boardwalk, gardens, dining hall, lodge, and infirmary.
“The entire facility is handicapped accessible as well, and so they come out with their families and enjoy many activities they don’t usually have the opportunity to do,” said Rodney Butler, Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council.
The projects on this Day of Caring included: spreading mulch, scraping and painting picnic tables, weeding, clearing brush, and creating a handicapped-accessible garden. “What we’re doing today would probably take the staff here a year or a season to get done, and we’re getting it done in one day,” said Dan Webster, Head of Engineering at Mohegan Sun.
Click here to watch the story that aired on WTNH News 8.