By Deb Everts
Thanks to a $4,000 grant, children from all over the region will be able to continue to enjoy Camp Turner’s thriving and growing wilderness adventure programs.
Camp Director John Mann said Camp Turner wishes to extend its gratitude, appreciation and thanks to the Cattaraugus County Youth Bureau, Senator Catharine M. Young, R-Olean, and her staff for the generous grant in support of the program.
“Campers at Camp Turner have the opportunity to sign up for multi-night wilderness camping trips, which require the use of tents and backpacks,” he said. “The funding from the Cattaraugus County Youth Bureau has enabled us to replace and upgrade our old, worn equipment with new, quality products from Cabela’s. These upgrades should ensure the viability of the backpacking program for a decade to come.”
Camp Turner features several backpacking programs that will benefit from this grant, including the Explorer and Counselor-in-Training (CIT) programs, as well as outdoor living skills activities. According to Mann, the wilderness adventure programs are held during the summer months for older campers. He said there are at least two backpacking trips scheduled this summer as part of the regular summer camp program.
“We’ve been doing these two-week programs for quite some time, but both programs were revived last summer,” Mann said. “Initially, we had backpacks donated to us by the ROTC at St. Bonaventure. The reason they donated them was because they were too old and worn out for the ROTC kids to use.”
According to Mann, the backpacks were used at Camp Turner an additional nine years after they were donated. He finally decided to find a way to get new backpacks because they were starting to breakdown. Then somebody suggested he apply for a grant.
“The new backpacks will be important to both the Explorer and CIT programs. I couldn’t have run these programs without replacing the equipment,” he said. “It had to happen some way or another. The backpacks and the tents weren’t going to last another summer.”
Explorers is a two-week, high adventure program for serious campers, aged 14-16. Mann said the group is going to take a four-day, three-night backpacking trip this summer.
“The last five years, we’ve done it through Allegany State Park on North Country Trail,” he said. “The four years before that we did it on North Country Trail, but up in the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. Each year, it’s been on different routes and I haven’t decided the route for this year.”
Mann said campers in the CIT program are also going to do a three-day backpacking trip on North Country Trail. During the second week of the program, they do the trip that includes Sky High Adventure Park’s high ropes course at Holiday Valley and some other service learning opportunities. He said the two-week program gives 15- and 16-year-olds who want to work at camp a lot of training so they can become future staff members if desired.
According to Mann, regular summer sessions at Camp Turner offer three days and two nights of camping fun to children from all over the region. He said it’s not only a fun trip, but it’s also an educational one.
Originally from North Tonawanda, Mann and his wife, Sheryl Soborowski, live in Great Valley. Mann, who has served as director for 16 years this summer, said Camp Turner provides a great opportunity for young campers to make new friends and keep their minds active over the summer and during winter break. He said the kids get to try some cool, new activities and reconnect with the presence of God in nature.
Camp Turner is a resident summer camp offering a full schedule of programs and activities for children ages 7 to 16. The campers come from all over Western New York. The Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has operated the not-for-profit camp since 1923.
The camp is located on the Quaker side of Allegany State Park. More details and information can be found online at campturner.com, or by calling 354-4555.