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A Different Kind of Donation to Deer Lake

By Clark Judge

(January 28, 2023) — Normally, donations to the Save Deer Lake campaign are accompanied by dollar signs, and let’s face it: That makes sense. Pathfinders, Inc., the non-profit that owns the 255-acre property, must retire the $1.8 million in loans it needed in order to make last year’s $4.75-millon purchase.

But not all donations are monetary.

Case in point: What happened this week with the Page Hardware and Appliance Co. in Guilford. It sent an unsolicited e-mail to Ted Langevin, president of Pathfinders, and asked if there was interest in an assortment of benches, a table and two Adirondack rocking chairs for Deer Lake.

The cost? Nothing. Someone simply had to make the pickup.

“Apparently,” said Langevin, “they had an excessive inventory of slow-moving merchandise.”

They did. According to Nick Hill, the operations manager at Page, it was an investment the store made a couple of years ago that “didn’t pay off.” So, it decided it would move the unsold items … and that’s where Deer Lake comes in.

“We were thinking of a creative way to repurpose it,” Hill said of the inventory. “We knew that (Pathfinders) recently bought the property and is trying to preserve it. So, we thought this was an awesome opportunity to give back.”

It was an opportunity for Pathfinders, too. No sooner had Hill inquired than Mike Doraz, a member of the Pathfinders Board of Directors, jumped into his pickup truck, drove to Guilford, loaded an estimated 15-20 pieces and returned to Deer Lake with a delivery. (Photo above: Doraz on the right, with Page Hardware Assistant Manager Michael Conrad).

“They said they were glad to help out,” Langevin said, “and were happy they were going to a good cause.”

The benches, which must be assembled, should come in handy for the Deer Lake summer youth camp, which last year attracted nearly 1,000 campers –averaging 194 for each of its five sessions.  Curiously, most of those campers were not from Killingworth. The overwhelming majority were from Guilford and Madison, with an almost even split between the two.

“I can see having the benches around a campfire,” said Patty Clifton, who – with husband Mark – has run the camp the past 36 years. “Each holds about three or four people, and they will really help. We can use them year ‘round to get the kids off the ground – and I mean that literally. Often they have to sit on logs, picnic tables and, sometimes, on the grass.”

The donations are the latest to Pathfinders, which raised approximately $85,000 in contributions since buying Deer Lake last September from the Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Most have been from individual donors, but two recent grants netted Pathfinders $27,500 from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County and the Connecticut Water Company.

“We can’t thank people enough for being aware of Deer Lake and the things we might need,” said Langevin. “We’re so grateful that the community continues to support us.”

Photo by Clark Judge


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