Giving young people an opportunity to thrive

Giving young people an opportunity to thrive

Camp Ruggles and Irons Homestead. For 46 years now the sounds of children enjoying summer mark the flow of a long friendship.

Irons Homestead has long been associated with community outreach, education, and youth development which makes our long partnership with Camp Ruggles such a great fit. Ruggles is Rhode Island’s sole therapeutic summer day camp for young children who are clinically diagnosed with emotional and behavior disabilities. Every summer from 1974, the Ruggles team makes summer camp possible for children who need a very specialized environment. The highly structured program focuses on social development, physical development, self-esteem building, problem solving, and the soft art of individual attention.
Director Jim Fields, Caretaker Venson Jordan, 
and long-time nurse Pauleen Slater

The dedicated camp staff returned once again in early June to make “not quite their usual” preparations for another season of water, sun and fun.  Rhode Island Covid-19 rates have been in steady decline and the camps’ high ratio of staff to campers made incorporating significant new safety protocols challenging but happily not insurmountable. Typically, it is a six-week program serving 60 children but with precautions in place for Covid-19, this summer it is operating on a smaller scale for 5 weeks.

Educators, psychologists and medical personnel work as a team to facilitate behavior modification plans to help prevent campers from losing ground during the summer break. For many of these children, Camp Ruggles is the only option available for a summer camping experience, and Irons Homestead is the only place where they can find it!

Great teams rarely build themselves, and the person responsible for building this one is the current camp director, Jim Fields. Jim is in his 31st year, beginning when he was just 16. He has held almost every position including junior and senior counselor, lifeguard, recreation director and assistant director.  
At Irons Homestead we serve at the pleasure of our creator. We are inspired to nourish an atmosphere of respect, good health and to share the craft of living in harmony with the earth and each other. In a recent conversation with Kate Ostertag, Irons Homestead Director, Jim shared, “Our longstanding positive relationship with Irons has made it feel like our home with thousands of summertime memories for so many campers and staff.” Kate shared in response, “Jim Fields and the entire Ruggles team exude genuine team spirit and make living in community at Irons a real pleasure.”

We could not be more pleased to have our friendship and the tradition of summer camp at Irons Homestead continue.
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