Running camp keeps Camp Guyasuta ranger on the move, satisfied

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:30 p.m.

Mike Daniher thinks he has the perfect job even though often he works seven days a week, hosts hundreds of guests and organizes oodles of extra workers.

Mike is the ranger in charge of Camp Guyasuta, a Boy Scout Camp.

He and his family live on the 167-acre nature reserve and working camp located in O'Hara, near the Highland Park Bridge.

“This camp is unique. Since day one, it has been an integral part of the community,” Mike said.

It provides a summer swimming hole for community children, Friday-night camp fires and a beautiful nature walk.

However, even though Guyasuta maintains a feel of being its own calm island, the camp is a modern, working business.

In 2004, Mike was part of long-term planning for the future of the camp.

“Anymore, the way the economy is, we try to generate enough to cover our costs. With all the improvements, we want to be budget neutral,” Mike said, sounding like a CEO.

The camp has reached out to other groups.

Mike points to career awareness, mentoring, and other city school programs that use the facilities.

“We partner with other organizations from education to human services,” the ranger said.

Expanding the services has brought interesting groups to the local site.

Camp Cadet, the junior police academy, uses the Guyasuta facilities.

Mike laughs when he remembers his kids going to school in a SWAT car.

Recently, about 50 people visiting from China spent a week at the camp.

It was a learning experience for both the visitors and the Daniher home team.

The visitors from China found the natural beauty and clean outdoors in the middle of the city amazing, Mike said.

In turn, the Danihers got to know the visitors and sat in on an impromptu talent show they performed.

“It's like having 100 to 200 of your closest friends visiting every day,” Mike said.

The growing number of amenities, such as the high-adventure ropes course, draws many visitors.

Guyasuta has 14 attractions, including a zip line and two climbing walls.

Mike admits he is not fond of heights, but the ropes and walls definitely attract others.

Local Scouts, Mike said, have benefited from the camp improvements funded by these other groups.

“Scouting has reinvented itself, not the oath or the law, but the delivery system,” Mike said.

Raised in Shaler, Mike was close enough walk to Camp Guyasuta.

He got involved in Scouting early, stayed with it, and became an Eagle Scout.

Earning emergency medical technician certification, he wanted to go into nursing.

Mike got sidetracked when members of the local Scout organization asked him to put off college.

Eventually, the Guyasuta position opened up, and Mike moved in 13 years ago.

He had inside help.

Mike met his wife, Kim, at the camp, where her grandfather was the ranger.

He said she “taught me the ropes.”

In addition, she does all the cooking. He said their partnership really works, and his children have benefited from helping out.

Mike and Kim stay involved in the local schools.

Also, Mike is a volunteer firefighter in Sharpsburg.

“Our years pass by like minutes,” Mike said.

Fortunately, he makes the most of every second.

Sharon Drake is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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