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Second Beach Campers Celebrate Summer With 'One Big Family' July 4th BBQ

It's a 'Yours, Mine and Ours' way of life each summer at the Second Beach Campground, where some families from all over New England have been camping for decades.

Today I pulled in to the Second Beach Campground just in time for their annual barbecue. I didn't know what to expect, but by the time I left, I felt like part of the warm extended family that comes to this campground year after year.

The campground's roots go back more than 50 years. I remember as a little girl seeing the tent trailers lined up just in time for the beach openings on Memorial Day weekend. It's come a long way since its start as just a field in its original location just down the road a bit near the old town dump.

One of the people I spoke with, Dorothy Bannon, a South Attleboro native, has been coming to these campgrounds since 1972.

"I loved camping so much when I was a little girl and would often times go alone. When I met my husband, [it was] a perfect fit for he too was a camper," said Bannon. "We graduated to tent trailer camping."

Bannon's husband passed twenty years ago but she keeps up the tradition on her own. Actually, Bannon is never alone because she has two grown children, six grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.

"The people here at the campgrounds are my extended family which has kept me coming back year after year as well as my love for the ocean," Bannon said.

Dan Reiss and his wife Julie have been coming here as a family for 14 years.

"Julie's family, the Sampson's brought her here since she was just a few months old which was more than thirty years ago. Now our whole family is here," Reiss said. "Our two children, Bob and Donna Sampson, Jule's parents, cousins, sister and brother-in-law. The kids love being right across the street from the beach and there is always someone to play with on the swings or somewhere on the grounds."

Campers come from all over and stay for varying lengths of time, but many stay the whole summer. Some have done this for decades.

Danielle Dubois has been coming to the Second Beach Campground for 18 years.

"People come from all over the country. At one time there was a long wait list. Some come for the whole season, for one month, one week or sometimes a lucky person can get a weekend spot," said Dubois.

Mary Spampinato, who is from Newport, recalled the wild times from the 1960s.

"There was no sewerage back then. As a matter of fact there was no sewerage until 1980 when the Navy ran a sewerage line and the campground connected to that. The 60s were wild times. Lots of drunken parties," Spampinato said.

The barbecue was beginning so I sat with a lovely family, the Clarks from Massachusetts. Melissa Clark was gracious in lending me a plate for my hamburger and assorted pasta salads and lots of wonderful things. This is the first time that the Clarks stayed at the campground and they are are already calling it home.

After finishing eating I walked around and took some photos of several of the families. I gathered the whole group and put them right in the center of the grounds. I love the photo of everyone.

It is one big family and a day that I will always remember. Thank you for including me. Oh and Mary, thanks for the use of the fork!

Amy Nachbar, a Massachusetts resident and regular Patch contributor throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts, spent her childhood summers in Middletown and grew up on its beaches. She continues to visit Middletown's beaches each weekend throughout the summer, as much as she can.


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