Camp Hemlocks, a 63-year-old summer camp in Hebron for children with disabilities, will close for good on Saturday.
For Germain and thousands of others, Camp Hemlocks was a place to feel normal and do what many take for granted.
"I went horeseback riding, archery, swimming, fishing, boating, all that stuff, but they did it so that people with disabilities could enjoy it too," said Germain.
Germain was born with a condition affecting the way the bones and muscles in his extremities developed, and as a camper and later a member on the board of directors, the experiences changed his life by giving him the confidence he needed.
"I think that's why I'm so upset about it, that now other people aren't going to be able to experience that kind of thing there," said Germain. "It's depressing, it's disappointing, but it doesn't surprise me."
The fully-accessible camp for kids and adults with disabilities established by Easter Seals has been in Hebron the last 39 years.
Easter Seals runs the camp and said financial reasons prompted the decision.
“Closing Camp Hemlocks is an option that was not made lightly, but after an extensive review, this was the best decision for the organization and the people we serve,” Roslyn D. Burton-Robertson, PhD, Executive Director of Easter Seals CFC, said. “Camp Hemlocks is so near and dear to the people we serve and it is with a heavy heart that we must say goodbye.”
The camp has not been at full capacity in years and the organization doesn't have the money to keep operating it.
Easter Seals CFC says it's shifting its priorities by expanding its existing services in Coastal Fairfield County and focusing on self-advocacy programs and assisting caregivers.
The organization has not revealed what will become of the property.