The Love Boat

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Many couples celebrate a special anniversary by popping a bottle of bubbly, or savoring a romantic, candlelit meal at a favorite restaurant. But for Peter and Anne Camm of Dayton, Ohio, there was only one thing they wanted to do to mark the 50 years since the day they met: make a pilgrimage to The Floating Hospital.

“That’s where we met in 1971. The fun thing about the boat was that everybody except the crew were college students volunteering for the summer. It was like being camp counselors. We created bonds and friendships, and had fun,” says Anne, who had come from Pittsburgh for the internship. “It was a wonderful experience to work with people from all over. There was little area on the boat that took care of children in wheelchairs, and that was my job.” Their boat was the Lloyd I. Seaman-the last Floating Hospital to function at sea. It included an arts and crafts deck, a place to show movies, and a doctor, dentist, nurse, and psychologist on board. “It was a way to get [the family] out of the city for a day, and their mothers and fathers, too and that was impressive to me . . . the importance of taking care of both physical health and mental health.”

images of the old floating hospital ship and pull quote

Left to right: The Lloyd I. Seaman, circa late 1960s; ticket to board, August 1971; Peter Camm with young charges; Anne Camm with other volunteers, August 1971

While Anne had come from Pittsburgh, Peter arrived all the way from London. He has seen the internship posted while in college. “It seemed like a great combination of the opportunity to travel and the opportunity to do a service project,” he said.

As the 20 or so young volunteers worked and bonded, the cute Englishman caught Anne’s attention. “I used to rush through my lunch just so I could get a few minutes to chat with him,” she recalled. By summer’s end, they were dating; four years later, they married.

Their recent anniversary trip wasn’t their first return to The Floating Hospital. “We reconnected with the hospital in 2001, which was our 25th anniversary of meeting there” says Peter, adding that the clinic is part of their annual charitable support.

To mark the 50th year they met, Anne and Peter spent more than two hours touring The Floating Hospital’s new clinic in Long Island City—even meeting some members of the staff from the days of the Lloyd I. Seaman, the ship that sealed both the Camm’s commitment to each other and to supporting the mission of The Floating Hospital. “I have to say it was one of the highlights of our time in New York this summer,” says Anne. “It was absolutely remarkable to see what it has become.”

Since 1866, The Floating Hospital has been the largest provider of healthcare and education to families living with homelessness. Based in Long Island City, it provides comprehensive primary, dental and behavioral-health services, and health-education to patients living in more than 300 shelters and domestic violence safe houses throughout New York City.

In 2021, The Floating Hospital moved into a new modern main clinic in Long Island City, and continues to support patients in satellite clinics at family homeless shelters and public housing complexes in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

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