CASSADAGA - The foggy morning and intermittent drizzle did not stop the seventh grade from Cassadaga Valley Central School from enjoying Camp Gross while learning about biology and nature. On Tuesday, about 70 students and their teachers were bused to the site to hike, to test pond and lake water, to construct Ojo de dios (literally, the eye of god, a craft using sticks and yarn), to play "Oh Deer," a game simulating the growth of the deer population, and of course to learn a silly camp song.
The Camp Gross Foundation extended the invitation and arranged activities and lunch for the students. Although the camp is literally in their front yard, most of the students had never been there.
Larissa Aldrich, who as Youth Director for the City of Dunkirk runs a day camp at Camp Gross in the summer, said, "This is a thank you to the local community. So many of the local residents support the camp. When I had a problem at camp one summer, 65 firefighters from Cassadaga came to help." Aldrich is also a member of the Camp Gross Foundation Board of Directors.
Sally Lawson (left) helps students prepare young trees to take home and plant. The trees were provided by the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Some students brought their lunches. Board members Karl Lawson and Jim Hayward grilled hot dogs on site for those who wanted them. Macaroni and cheese made by other board members and chips and a beverage were also available. In addition to leading the craft, board member Colleen Cannard brought cookies, frostings and decorations. Students frosted and decorated their own cookies for dessert.
Sally Lawson helped the students wrap small trees donated by Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation. Each student was given a tree to take home and plant. While working with them, she chatted about Arbor Day and why it was important to plant trees.
Sally organized the event drawing upon talents of the board of directors as well as other friends of the camp. For a first-time event, she was pleased with the outcome.
"Even though we would have liked better weather, the day was fine. I was very pleased that the students came in correctly dressed. All the adults commented on the politeness of the students," she said.
Others who participated in making this event successful were Marie Tomlinson, Marti Webster, Alona Forbes and Jane Conroe.
The Camp Gross Foundation's mission is to provide the youth of Chautauqua County with an excellent, safe, handicapped accessible, up-to-date facility open year round. For a reasonable cost, classes and youth groups of all types can use the facility for camping or day programs. Dunkirk's recreation program will hold its day camp there this summer. While residents of Dunkirk have first preference, other children are welcome on a space-available basis
A United Way Agency, currently the foundation is conducting its yearly fundraising drive. Those who are interested in helping maintain this property may mail a donation to Camp Gross Foundation, 70 Leming St., Dunkirk, N.Y. 14048. Contributions are acknowledged and are tax deductible. In addition the foundation is sponsoring a work day at camp on May 19. To participate or for further information, call Ranger Tim Cobb at 595-2171.
Information about the camp can be found at www.campgross.org.
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