Meadville Tribune

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June 18, 2014

Youth Field Day welcomes children to annual day of fun

Organizers and volunteers behind the 23rd annual Crawford County Youth Field Day are gearing up to host another successful event at the end of this month, expected to turn out several hundred local kids and teens.

The event gives county youth, ages 7 to 18, the opportunity to learn more than a dozen different facets of the outdoors through a day of activities, prizes and all-around good times, according to Russ Suriano, Youth Field Day coordinator.

“We do this every year on the fourth Saturday in June at Pymatuning Sportsmen’s Club,” he said. “We register up to 300 kids, but I’ve never seen us turn away a child yet who meets the criteria.”

Youth Field Day, scheduled for June 28, is free of charge, lunch included, to participating youth accompanied by an adult chaperone. Activities start at 7:30 a.m. Pre-registration is required and available at ccyfd.org.

Participants get the opportunity to experience and learn about the outdoors through multiple Field Day stations, including wildlife conservation, .22 rifle/firearms safety, pioneer living, archery, canoeing, shotgun/trap and fishing.

“The last couple of years have been fantastic,” Suriano said. “We have a fantastic registration team. That’s how we’re blessed to get that many kids.”

The event is staffed solely by volunteers who make the event possible with financial help from community donations, Suriano added.

“I couldn’t ask for better people in this county,” he said of the event’s volunteers, sponsors and attendees. “I’ve got the best volunteers. All I have to do is tell them the date and we’ve got miles of people who want to come out. I can’t do it without them.”

Long-time volunteer Chester Morfenski of the Saegertown area said he’s been running the archery station since the event’s inception and has taught more than 2,000 kids how to shoot a bow.

“I think it’s wonderful and I realize it’s setting the avenue up for children to continue to love the outdoors and the sports related to it,” he said. “The day and age we live in, where parents are not into outdoor activities in line of hunting and fishing, allows me to spark an interest in the children.”

Morfenski’s love of teaching children is so great, he’s never missed a Youth Field Day, even despite a broken leg one year, he said.

He would, however, like to see more parents get involved in the event as volunteers or chaperones to support the kids, many of whom he has seen return for as long as they’re allowed because they enjoy it so much.

“More parents (should) get involved and try to help us,” Morfenski added. “We’re always looking for guides willing to look after 10 or 12 kids and help them pick which events they want to go to next.”

Youth Field Days in other counties are dwindling in number, Suriano said, while he feels Crawford County’s seems only to improve year after year.

“If not for the parents and kids who enjoy this program so much, Crawford County would probably be in the same boat as the other counties,” Suriano said. “We’re gaining and I attribute it to the wonderful volunteers. Like I said, we’ve got the best.”

You can go

Crawford County Youth Field Day is scheduled for June 28 at Pymatuning Sportsmen’s Club in Linesville. Activities start at 7:30 a.m. Pre-registration is required. Registration, information and volunteer signup are available by phone at (724) 927-6149 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., or online at ccyfd.org. The event includes free T-shirts, door prizes, lunch and outdoor demonstrations all day. All equipment is provided.

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