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Community Summer Camp Serves Port Chester Kids

About  275 children in Port Chester will have a place to go this summer while their parents are at work.

"We want to create a positive environment for the kids," said Father Richard Alejuna, executive director of the Don Bosco Boys & Girls Club through which he runs the Salesian Summer Daze Day Camp in partnership with Corpus Christi Church in the village.

Alejuna said the camp is part of his religious order's--the Salesians of Don Bosco--mission "to service the poor, the marginalized and immigrant communities," which are highly represented in Port Chester. He added that it is particularly helpful to the many Port Chester working parents who can't afford childcare, especially single mothers.

The camp costs $175 a week to attend, but Alejuna said 76 percent of the children receive roughly $100,000 in scholarships that cover the bulk of summer program each year.

A quarter of the money is raised through private donors, another quarter is donated by the Salesians and the rest comes through a spring fundraising drive organized by the community group Latin Women of Scarsdale & Friends.

The camp runs for seven weeks from the end of June to the beginning of August from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and provides the children with breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. There is a "junior camper program" for children ages three to six, and a "senior camper program" for ages seven to 14.

A variety of activities are provided ranging from sports, games, field trips, music and dance.

Second grader Diana Duchi will be attending the summer camp for the third year and said her favorite part of the camp when they set up sprinklers and water toys on the blacktop.

"We may not have the ocean,” said Alejuna. “But we’ve got a ‘tar beach.’”

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