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Camp Turner celebrates 100 years with Centennial Weekend


For the past 100 years, Camp Turner has been honoring God in the children entrusted to its care. Through hiking, horseback riding and high ropes, the camp programs encourage the development of community-living skills, self-care skills, interpersonal skills, values and spirituality with a focus on Catholic identity.

Camp Turner’s original chapel. (Photo courtesy of Camp Turner)

Two special gatherings will mark the centennial.

On Thursday, July 13, an alumni social will take place at Mr. Goodbar, 1110 Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo from 5-9 p.m.

“Alumni are invited,” said John Mann, executive director of the camp. “The first drink is free. There are free hors d’oeuvres and appetizers for everybody as well throughout the evening.”

Saturday, July 15 is “the main event” of Centennial Celebration Weekend. An open house will be held with doors opening at 1 p.m. All the activity areas will be open to tour and experience. Bishop Michael W. Fisher will celebrate Mass at 4 p.m., followed by a brief presentation, recognition of alumni, and a banquet. The night will close with a campfire, singalongs and skits. “All the good campy stuff,” Mann promises.

There will also be a historical display during the open house at the St. Francis Center, with white board presentations and videos.

Over 200 people have already RSVPed.

“We’ll have alumni here from the ’60s, ’70s ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and teens and even this decade,” said Mann.

There is also a weekend stay available.

A new biking program will be introduced this year. Allegany State Park has built a bike trail that cuts across the camp’s driveway.

“Because of that, we’re going to have a new biking program this summer,” said Mann. “We got a grant for a bunch of bicycles, helmets, and a shed and equipment. We’re going to do bike excursions with kids as part of our program.”

By mid-summer the new horse trails should be ready, and OLV Charities, through a number of donations, is beginning to re-side the dining hall.

OLV Charities took over the lease on Camp Turner from the Diocese of Buffalo in 2020.

“They are committed to making this place successful, and keeping it open as a ministry for children and adults in Western New York,” said Mann. “They have put a lot of time and energy and resources and fundraising efforts into making this place nicer.”

Mann, who has been heading Camp Turner for the past 20 years, met his wife at camp, and he knows the magic of the relationships made while trying new activities.

“Kids come to camp to make friends, try new things they haven’t tried before, be in a new environment where they can be themselves and not have to fit into the ‘Breakfast Club’ stereotypes they’re in in school,” he said. “They come for a break from the routine and maybe to reconnect with themselves. Some of them come for the spiritual aspect to discover the presence of God in themselves and each other, in staff and in nature. It’s a great time.”

All the staff at Camp Turner take part in the diocesan Safe Environment program. Counselors get trained in wilderness First Aid, basic life support, automated external defibrillators, and EpiPen use, as well as bullying intervention, behavior management, and managing special needs.

For more information visit www.campturner.com. RSVP on the events page.


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