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Camp Guyasuta builds teamwork

| Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007

A visit to Camp Guyasuta in O'Hara provides more than a trek along a windy nature path or a dip in the creek.

Camp Ranger Mike Daniher said the 168-acre site just outside Sharpsburg provides lessons in team-building and a chance to boost self-esteem.

"Our goal is to stabilize youth for tomorrow," Daniher said. "We teach a lot of teamwork."

Their work got a little easier last week, with the notice of a $4,200 grant from The Heinz Endowments.

Made available through the North Hills Community Outreach, the money will be used to buy mountain bikes and improve the camp's Challenge Course.

With activities that include high- and low-rope obstacles, basketball courts and a climbing wall, the Rohr Family Challenge Center is aimed primarily at trust-building.

It is used not only by local campers, but by at-risk children who are not used to placing their faith in others.

It also is targeted by regional corporations for their adult employees to improve efficiency and productivity.

A portion of the Heinz money will cover the cost of new mountain bikes, used by Challenge Course participants to traverse through the one-mile Liken Trail to the Guyasuta Waterfall.

"We're doing a program now where we canoe the kids to PNC Park," said Daniher, noting that the camp is just blocks from the docks along the Allegheny River.

"There, they'll have lunch and get on our new mountain bikes to come back along the riverfront trail that runs back to camp."

Along with team-building lessons, the canoeing provides environmental instruction that coincides with different aspects of river life, including the city's developmental impact.

"It builds upon team-building activities that they do on the course at camp, and they get to see the city from a different perspective."

Money from the North Hills Community Outreach was doled out through its Youth Philanthropy Intern program.

Earlier this summer, eight local college-bound students were hired to sift through proposals from non-profit groups in Allegheny County that engage children in positive activities to promote learning, safety and health.

In all, they received 57 grant applications and awarded a total of $50,000 to 14 of them.

Daniher said the money does more than upgrade the Challenge Course at Camp Guyasuta.

"It expands our chance to partner with other groups, like local schools, and work with adults through businesses and churches."

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer with The Herald in Aspinwall.

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