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Dear Editor:

This letter is being written in response to the recent speculation that the Vinton Pond Improvement Association influenced Camp Starfish to sell the former Girl Scout camp property. As the Founder of Camp Starfish, I’d like to set the record straight on behalf of folks whom I have come to regard as friends.

Camp Starfish serves children with a wide range of emotional, behavioral and learning problems with a one-to-one camper to staff ratio. With a tremendous amount of structure and predictability, our program, still in its infancy, has proven successful in helping children begin to see themselves as valued and valuable members of our community. The former Girl Scout camp in Townsend is obviously a beautiful spot, one that would have suited the needs of our program brilliantly. It was with zeal and a commitment to finding a permanent home that we purchased the land in 2004.

Our process of due diligence, while not substantial enough, involved communications with many of the Vinton Pond neighbors, both before and after the purchase. I wish to share that they were cordial, welcoming, clearly proud of the property, and eager to get to know the other members of the Camp Starfish community. While they understandably had some questions, an appropriate forum for those questions was created at the home of one family on a Saturday afternoon where lunch was served, and the pond was cleaned. It was a welcoming forum.

As a small nonprofit organization, while substantive in our service delivery, we are limited in our ability to raise the kinds of funds that building a property from scratch would have required. When the true costs of the buildout (approximately double our initial estimates) were determined, we made the very difficult decision to sell the property. This decision had absolutely nothing to do with the Vinton Pond Improvement Association, or their actions.

Thank you for printing this letter. It is my hope that this true bastion of neighborly goodness may be properly understood.

Sincerely,

DEB BERMAN

Camp Starfish