The concept of Camp Sea Haven began in the 1940s when a severe epidemic of infantile paralysis swept over this part of the country, leaving behind many severely crippled children and adults. Daniel Harrington of Haverhill, MA. who had suffered polio as a youth, was aware of a number of children in his area who were recovering from the devastating effects of the recent epidemic. It was his dream to open a camp somewhere in Essex County where these children could spend two weeks without charge in a supervised setting that would meet their needs for recreation and therapy. In 1946 with the help of other businessmen, professionals, and organizations, funds were raised, a corporation formed and a ten-year lease was obtained on the recently-abandoned Knobbs Beach Coast Guard Station.
Camp Sea Haven opened for its first season in 1947 and despite its limited facilities was a huge success. During a six-week period, 60 children, most of them ineligible to attend a regular camp, were given a two-week vacation.
Support for Camp Sea Haven continued to grow, and with the aid of numerous area organizations and clubs, including local chapters of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, the camp was soon able to expand. Boston & Maine Railroad employees contributed the funds and labor for the large dining/ recreation hall as a World War Il memorial. They also built the swimming pool and three of the dormitory cottages surrounding it.
“ … was “Born in Haverhill on September 23, 1930, he was the son of Daniel R. and Charlotte (Wilmont) Harrington. Dan graduated from St. James High School and Merrimack College, where he was a member of their men’s first varsity basketball team. After college, he began his influential career as a public school educator for 45 years in the City of Haverhill and retired as principal at the Albert B. Consentino School. He shared with each student that crossed his path the love of learning, especially American History. During the summer months, Dan would spend the majority of his time at Camp Sea Haven on Plum Island, a facility for the recreation and therapy of children stricken with polio that was founded by his father, who suffered from the crippling disease. After the passing of his father in 1959, Dan and his wife, Norene, took over the operations and continued the work his parents started until 1972.”
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