Featured Story

Quinipet hosts seniors: Event celebrates Esther Hunt’s 99th birthday

It was a day of songs, crafts, history and food at Camp Quinipet last week as Island seniors visited Camp Quinipet. Despite having their outdoor cookout and activities moved into the camp’s dining room because of cloudy skies and cool temperatures, they still had the view of the water lapping at Quinipet’s shores and the company of one another in what they said was a great change of pace.

Added to the joyful festivities was a celebration of their friend Esther Hunt, who is 99 this month. She sang along when cook Reggie Johnson brought out a birthday cake he baked in her honor, and ate up a storm.

When told how valuable she is to the community, Ms. Hunt was quick to reply that she wants a few more years. The singing cook serenaded Ms. Hunt with his own happy birthday song.

Supervisor Gerry Siller stopped in to wish her a happy birthday, as did Councilman Jim Colligan.

And Heather Reylek, Penny and John Kerr and Wendy Clark were on hand to provide music, inviting the seniors to sing along to classic songs — “Ain’t She Sweet,” “Heart of My Heart,” “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,” and many more.

The day started with Camp Quinipet’s Executive Director Brooke Bradley providing a brief history of the site. She talked about the presence of the Manhanset tribe on the Island 4,000 years ago. The Quinipet site was believed to have been the tribe’s fishing area.

In the 1800s, a ferry ran between the Quinipet site and Southold. Quinipet, named from Greek-Latin words for five rocks, tells the story of carvings on rocks at the site: courage, honesty, humility, faith and love.

The seniors divided into small groups to discuss the words, identifying which were more important to them with the majority focusing on love. But one group chose courage, saying it takes courage to deal with medical conditions afflicting some of them at this stage of life.

The camp is owned and operated by the New York Conference of The United Methodist Church, but has been used by groups of many denominations through the years. For many years, Quinipet hosted the Kids Need More program, which ran a week-long summer encampment for children with life-threatening illnesses and their siblings.

Quinipet staffer Vernessa Kingsbury led the seniors through a craft project, making frames to hold a copy of a group picture taken that morning so each would have a memento of the day.

The group left mid-afternoon, with broad smiles on their faces and an invitation from Ms. Bradley to return for another event in the fall.