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Memories at DAR

My father was a high school science and math teacher in Middlebury, and, starting in the 1960s, every summer after school got out we spent the next week camping at D.A.R. State Park. It celebrated the start of summer and the freedom that came with that. Dad, mom, all six kids, a giant green canvas tent, multiple pup-tents, the Coleman stove, lantern, duffle bags of swimwear and towels, guitars and a huge box of food were loaded into the station wagon for the 20 mile ride out to the park. At that time DAR had wooden tent platforms and we usually went back to the same site that provided easy access to the beach year after year.


Other local families always joined us at D.A.R. creating a compound of lively fun. \With a pal on every site, it was a scene of kids tearing around from campsites to the pavilion to the beach and back again. Empty tent platforms were the stages for our many improvised plays and shows. Adults gathered camp chairs to patiently be our audience, rewarding us with applause no matter how weak the show. At night there would be a circle around a campfire with guitars, songs and s’mores. As kids we all had such a sense of independence at D.A.R., while at the same time the many adults around meant someone’s eyes were catching sight of us regularly. Most of us learned life skills while camping- campfire building, knot tying, skipping stones across the water, canoeing, fishing, and the lyrics to myriad folk songs!


Eventually as kids grew up and went off to college and adult lives, we stopped going to D.A.R. Then, in 2020, a couple of us decided to meet up there in late June. Due to the Covid pandemic it was a way for us to see each other safely outside. Although D.A.R. was a bit different, so many things were the same! Grassy sites with plenty of room, that rocky beach which requires a pair of old sneakers to enter the water, but which provides endless supplies of flat skipping stones, the sound of the train going through Port Henry across the lake, friendly staff, plenty of firewood and a sense of peace and relaxation to kick off the summer. It has now become a yearly tradition again with all of us siblings gathering each year in June at D.A.R. Old memories are retold and new memories are created. This state park holds a special place in our family history!


- Patty Wesley



A stone building overlooking a lake
D.A.R. State Park, Photo provided by Vermont State Parks

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