Great Outdoors

CASSADAGA – Weather cooperated for Camp Gross’ first open house.

The board of directors of the Camp Gross Foundation wanted to showcase the site and encourage youth groups to use the facility While admission to the site was free, a silent auction, a bake sale, and a giveaway were held to raise money to maintain the site.

About 60 members of the public explored the grounds and participated in some planned activities, such as tours of the camp and crafts. The Western and Central New York Safari Club was even on hand to distribute free kits for building bluebird houses.

Most people came by motor vehicle, but Susan Kluck and Lucas Tarnowski were kayaking on Cassadaga Lake when Camp Gross Foundation President Chuck Chasler saw them and invited them onshore.

Kluck said, “I hadn’t heard about the open house, but this turned out to be perfect. I am so glad we came.”

Those who arrived in the more conventional way parked their cars at the entrance to the camp. Board members Sally and Karl Lawson greeted visitors who were then were taken by a tractor-pulled cart for a tour of the site. Children especially enjoyed riding on the cart which was lined with square bales of hay. Ranger Tim Cobb drove the tractor.

At Mead picnic area, board member Colleen Cannard, assisted by Aly Glasier, helped anyone interested create an Ojo De Dios (eye of God). The craft starts with two twigs around which yarn is wound. Because a variety of colored yarn was available, each person was able to create a unique ornament.

Joe Mikula and Renny Leworthy, members of the Western and Central New York Safari Club, staffed the organization’s display, urged people to take a bluebird house and answered questions. Cooperating with scouts and other organizations, the group has distributed over 40,000 bluebird houses. They have also offered nesting boxes for Wood Ducks. Both species of birds require specialized nesting which sometimes is not available in the wild.

Jim Elias, a trustee for the organization, came to the open house to show his support for Camp Gross. He and his wife, Suzanne love the site. They brought their dog, Farrah, who eagerly accepted attention from both adults and children.

Camp Gross Foundation Secretary Sally Lawson said, “The open house was successful, especially for a first effort.”

The foundation’s mission is to provide the Youth of Chautauqua County with an excellent, safe, handicapped accessible up-to-date camping facility open year round. The facilities provide opportunity for study of nature and the environment, swimming, hiking, camping, games, sports and fun outdoors. Youth Groups provide their own program, leadership and insurance. Fees are kept as low as possible.

The foundation is a United Way Agency.

For further information about the camp, see the organization’s website or call 595-2171 to speak to the ranger.