Campout kicks off park fundraising efforts

More than 62 people turned out for the Frenchtown Borough Park Campout on Aug. 5th and 6th, in the first of a series of planned fundraising efforts for  park renovations.

“I knew this would be a perfect way to kick off our fundraising efforts because Frenchtowners love to come together in support of the things that are most important to this community – and this park is a huge part of who we are; we all want to see it be the best it can be,” said Frenchtown Councilwoman Caroline Scutt, who spearheaded the campout.

“There were a lot of people who have never camped before,” said Frenchtown Councilwoman Holly Low, who heads the park committee and co-organized the event.

The $250,0000 park update will include new equipment, hiking trails, new signage and a zip line, one of the suggestions submitted by Frenchtown School Student Council which surveyed the entire student body to get ideas for new play equipment.

“We had a great community process to get ideas for the park renovations,” said Low. “About 20 residents participated in meetings and gave feedback. We’re going to save some of our favorite vintage pieces that are safe, and bring in some exciting new pieces that the students asked for in their surveys.”

Julia Burchill, 11, of Frenchtown, said she came up with a zip line after being at other parks that had them.

“It’s really really good being involved in designing the park equipment. I love the park so it’s been fun to make it new again,” she said.

Camper Yolanda Smith, 11, of Newark, said she can’t wait for it to be installed.

“You’re just gliding over the air,” said Yolanda, who has ridden zip lines at other parks. “I like that part.”

Campers pitched tents,  toasted marshmallows, made s’mores and watched the film The Princess Bride during the event that took part from late Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning.  

Low said the campout brought out a half-dozen resident volunteers and groups such as the Frenchtown Presbyterian Church’s Family Service Outreach, whose volunteers did face painting and voter registration on Saturday evening. Members of the Frenchtown Community Garden donated food made from crops grown in the borough.

“There’s all these neat community groups that got involved in this,” said Low.

The campout is the kick off to more fundraising efforts to support the park renovation. Later this month, borough council is expected to approve an online fundraising drive that will accept donations via credit cards.

In the interim, anyone who would like to support the renovation can send a check made out to Borough of Frenchtown to Borough Hall, 29 Second Street, Frenchtown, NJ 08825. Note on the check it’s a donation for the park.

“We were fortunate to receive a matching grant from the Fargo Family Foundation,” emphasized Low, “so we are asking all lovers of Frenchtown Borough Park to please make a donation soon to ensure we secure this grant.”