Youngsters enjoy a summer day at Lake Paran. Paran Recreations was established in 1960, by a group of North Bennington residents with the help of their neighbors, but children have been learning to swim there since long before. Photo provided by Camille Kauffman — Paran Recreations.

By Gen Louise Mangiaratti, Vermont Country.

NORTH BENNINGTON — Where did you learn to swim?

For many locals and visitors to the area of North Bennington, the answer is Lake Paran.

“I get all the time, when I tell people that I’m the director here, that they learned to swim here…or, they tell me anecdotes about coming here with their family, and how the beach has changed or the landscapes have changed, but it’s still a cherished community place.”

Said Camille Kauffman, who took helm of the nonprofit organization overseeing the lake in 2022.
“The lake is a really important gathering place for the people that live in this community, for swimming, but also, there are beautiful trails around the lake, and fishing and boating,” Paran Recreations chair Alisa Del Tufo said. Photo provided by David Morelos Zaragoza.

Paran Recreations was established in 1960.

A group of North Bennington residents with the help of the community, raised $10,000 to purchase 6 acres along the lake’s shoreline, according to the lake’s website. The popular spot for outdoor recreation offers a small beach with lawn space, a sand volleyball court, charcoal grills, and a concessions stand with highly rated grilled cheeses. There is of course swimming, with lifeguards on duty, a floating raft, and canoe and kayak rentals.

Tom Paquin, of North Bennington, recalls learning to swim at Lake Paran at ages 5 and 6, when he went there every day with his friends during the summer. He is now 82.

He remembers a platform about halfway across the lake, that he and his friends would swim out to and jump off of. He had a brother who was in the Navy, and despite his prowess, one day, while getting into a boat, he fell into the water.

“I remember it was never hot. It was always cold,” he said with a laugh.

Even getting to the lake and back was an adventure — Paquin recalls traveling by bicycle or even by horse.

“We had very little adult supervision. We could come and go as we pleased,” he recalls of the late 1940s.

Though times may have changed, the draw of Lake Paran hasn’t.

Alisa Del Tufo, chair of the organization’s board, is a daily swimmer at Lake Paran when the weather allows. When it’s too cold to swim, she “plunges” — when you briefly submerge in freezing water for health benefits. She said the lake was one of the reasons she moved here from a city 17 years ago.

A view of fall foliage reflecting on Lake Paran. The lake is a resource to the community year-round. Board chair Alisa Del Tufo “plunges” in the water during months when it is too cold to swim. Photo provided by Camille Kauffman — Paran Recreations.

“The lake is a really important gathering place for the people that live in this community, for swimming, but also, there are beautiful trails around the lake, and fishing and boating,” Del Tufo said. “And just sort of being a beautiful spot to be right out in nature, and it’s literally right in the middle of the village of North Bennington.”

Two summer highlights are the Our Village Camp and the annual “3rd of July” fireworks.

The Our Village Camp, for which registration is now open, is a six-week summer day-camp for children ages 6 to 12. Activities take place around the village and incorporate nature, swimming, art, summer reading and more.

“It’s welcome for anyone to join. We have kids all the time come from New York City, or, you know, they’re visiting for the week, or for a few weeks in the summer with their grandparents,” Kauffman said, noting that children have come from as far as Georgia. “It’s for anyone to come and experience the unique assets of the village.”

The annual warm-weather fireworks celebration includes food trucks, live music, snow cones, swimming, face-painting and more. 

“We have up to 1,000 people here sitting on the hillside to watch the fireworks being projected on the ball fields across the lake. So it makes a beautiful reflection on the lake,” Kauffman said.

For more information about Lake Paran, and to register children for the Our Village Camp, visit

Gen Louise Mangiaratti, is editor of Vermont Country magazine and is arts & entertainment editor for Vermont News & Media. She lives in Brattleboro with her cat, Theodora, and welcomes your post-idyllic holiday music recommendations at

Vermont Country magazine

Vermont Country has a hyperlocal focus on the Green Mountain lifestyle, its personalities, events, attractions and culture. The magazine appears six times a year, designed to complement the state and four-season living. VtCo magazine is a Southern Vermont publication of Vermont News & Media.

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