SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Congressman Richard Neal was in Springfield on Thursday, announcing the allocation of federal funds to the Urban League of Springfield.

Chairman Neal has earmarked $450,000 for the Urban League, money the organization will use to revitalize the 100 year old Camp Atwater.

Located on Lake Lashaway in North Brookfield, the 80-acre Camp Atwater is the oldest African American Camp in the country and the only camp listed on the national register of historic places. The camp has served more than 60,000 local children. The camp will use these federal funds to tackle improvement and modernization projects.

“1921 is when Camp Atwater first started you know, so there’s a lot of upgrades and adjustments that have to be made for everything to work the way it is supposed to work after being around town for a hundred years,” said Henry M. Thomas III, the President and CEO of the Urban League of Springfield.

Thomas added that they will also use the money to help cover the costs for campers who cannot afford to attend Camp Atwater. The allocation of funds was made possible through the Congressional Directed Spending from the Departments of Housing and Urban Developments. Chairman Neal included funding for this project in the fiscal year 2022 spending bill that was signed into law earlier this year.

These improvements to Camp Atwater are coming at the perfect time; this summer will mark the first time the camp is entirely re-opening and returning to overnight status after the pandemic.