By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Charlton??”Prindle Pond Conference Center combines a lovely natural wooded setting with a variety of lodging options and complete meals service to accommodate group events for anywhere from 25 to 300 people.
The conference facility is affiliated with Nature's Classroom, an educational program started in 1973, that brings students and teachers to the Charlton location and 12 other sites around New England for multi-day programs during the school year.
But the housing, dining and recreational facilities in Charlton are also available for group rentals on weekends during the school year and any time during the summer months.
Dr. John Santos, who founded Nature's Classroom and is its executive director, also oversees the conference side of the business. “We had these wonderful facilities that weren's being used on weekends and during the summer,” he said.
“We can offer here a relaxed setting that fills all the food and lodging needs, and we will work with groups to arrange any other services needed” to carry out the program the group has planned for their stay, Santos said.
Those services can include transportation from airports in Boston, Providence or Hartford, transportation to local events, audio-video capability, even wedding photography.
Prindle Pond hosts corporate retreats and training sessions, church groups, college groups, and family reunions. It is the setting for five or six weddings each year.
Santos noted that the dining facilities can provide three meals a day and handle any dietary restrictions or needs.
Prindle Pond Conference Center is set on 600 acres of wooded land, including a pond. There are an outdoor swimming pool, hiking trails, a gymnasium, basketball courts and seven playing fields of various sizes. It is arranged as two separate but adjacent facilities??”Hilltop and Pond Side??”to accommodate smaller groups individually, but the two can be combined to handle a large group.
Six individual buildings provide guest housing and range in size from 18 to 70 beds, so groups can reserve the buildings that meet their needs while keeping the group together. Most rooms have four beds and a private bathroom, housing four children during the Nature's Classroom school visits, or two adults during conference events. In total, the venue has 310 bed spaces. Most of these buildings include meeting rooms and other common spaces as well.
Two separate dining facilities are available, accommodating up to 180 and 250 people. Prindle Pond generates about half of its energy from solar panels, and another 16 per cent from its own wind turbine.
During the school year, the 13 Nature's Classroom locations serve about 30,000 students and their teachers, Santos said. He started the program in 1973 after teaching in elementary school.
“The greatest benefit to the kids is taking them away from the classroom for a few days and altering their whole mentality, opening them up to new experiences and ideas,” he said. Most schools participating in the program send students for three to five days. Nature's Classroom has about 140 of its own teachers who work with the students while they attend the program. Some of its teaching alumni have started similar programs in other regions of the country.
Prindle Pond Conference Center is centrally located near the intersection of the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) and I-84, at 19 Harrington Rd. in Charlton.
For additional information, go to the Nature's Classroom website, www.naturesclassroom.org, ?and click on the conference center tab, or call 508-248-4737.
Editor's Note: The preceding is not an endorsement and is presented for informational purposes only.