Robert Peek was the prince of the deep at Camp Lovejoy.
“I can swim like a fish,” said the 9-year-old boy. “I even won a trophy.”
Kids were swimming, building huts and exploring the woods at the Altamont compound during the summer of 1970. Old Jesse Lovejoy would have been happy to meet Robert and fellow nature lovers Alex Starson and Gerald Brooks. The camp had been named after Jesse, one of the founders and first contributors to the Schenectady Boys Club in 1936.
Lovejoy opened in 1957. Kids had been on the grounds before — the Salvation Army had previously owned the land and had used it for a resident camp for boys and girls. Kids from ages 6 through 13 were Lovejoy’s visitors in 1970, with age groups divided into three clubs —the “braves,” “scouts” and “pioneers.”
Armand “Stretch” Westerlund was running the show in 1970.
“In the last decade or so, this place has been completely redone,” Westerlund told Gazette reporter Greg McGarry. “When I came here 11 years ago, we had no ponds, no pool, no bathhouse and no pavilion. The community has really helped us; that’s why I appreciate this place so much.”
Most kids’ families paid the $5 weekly fee. An annual fund-raising campaign helped raise money to pay for needy kids who might have had to stay home.
Nobody would have wanted to miss the archery lessons, cookouts, fishing trips and assorted arts and crafts.
“It’s so much fun, you can’t get tired,” said Alex Starson.
The day camp remains open, with an outdoor amphitheater, playing fields and an adventure ropes course among the prime attractions. The latest upgrade is the Adeline W. Graham Lodge — which features two large dining halls, commercial kitchen, rest rooms and wrap-around deck.
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