Boston – Today the Massachusetts Senate gave its preliminary approval to legislation authorizing Berkshire Community College (BCC) to lease land to the Pittsfield Family YMCA for the operation and maintenance of Camp Sumner. State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) and State Representative William Smitty Pignatelli (D- Lenox) filed the bill on behalf of the two local organizations.
“Collaboration and resource sharing are important in maximizing the ability to deliver quality services with limited funding,” said Downing. “This partnership between BCC and the YMCA is a winning proposition for the campers, the YMCA, BCC, and our community at large.”
Two years ago the Pittsfield Family YMCA gave up property which for many years housed Camp Sumner, the YMCA’s summer day camp. Beginning in 2007, the YMCA partnered with BCC to develop short-term, year-to-year rental agreements for the camp to operate on the College’s Pittsfield campus.
Final passage of this legislation will permit BCC and the YMCA to form a long-term – up to 20 years – partnership allowing the two organizations to use their combined resources to create additional educational experiences for the campers. Camp Sumner will be authorized to access and use BCC’s facilities, including the soccer fields, pool, classroom space and cafeteria.
“This arrangement allows us to introduce 130 youngsters every day, all summer long, to the positive aspects of higher education in their lives with the intention of expanding their dreams and aspirations,” noted Dr. Paul E. Raverta, President of Berkshire Community College.
BCC developed environmental workshops as part of the camp program, utilizing its facilities as a classroom. Additionally, exposing campers to a college environment at an early age and increasing their educational aspirations, is a main goal of the Berkshire Compact for Higher Education.
“Our programs to help children develop into knowledgeable, productive, and responsible young men and women have been positively impacted by our affiliation with BCC. We were able to expand our programs by adding workshops taught by college faculty,” said Randy Kinnas, Executive Director of the Pittsfield Family YMCA.
The bill is now before the Massachusetts House of Representatives.