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Entrance to Camp Coffman
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  Camp Coffman Ministries

By: Matt, Class of 2004

Camp Coffman is located just outside of Fertigs in Clarion County, Pennsylvania. Its located about twenty minutes from Oil City. The camp has a total of 31 acres and itís a remarkable replica of Cooks Forests. The Boy Scouts of America originally started Camp Coffman Ministires in 1923. The camp was named after J.P Coffman. He was a resident of Fertigis. They named it in honor of him because he donated over $3000 to the camps clean up. This was to be one of the most nationally acclaimed BSA camp in the state of Pennsylvania. The original and most helpful troop that renovated the land to build the cabins, trails and ponds of Camp Coffman was Troop 1 of Clarion and troop 16 Oil City. It was used constantly by the BSA as mainly a campground and jamboree meeting place. I talked with many original members of Troop 1 and 16; the most helpful information came from a man by the name of Guy Heckelthrown a resident of Tippery and a former boy scout for Troop 16. He told me all about the blood, sweat, and tears that were put in to the creation of Camp Coffman. He also told me about the campouts and scout meetings that were held there over the years. During 1923-24 the BSA were busy clearing and renovating the land so that cabins and trails could be open to the public. Over 120 Scouts worked on the renovation of the camp.

Then the foundations of the first buildings, the pond, the dam along East Sandy Creek, and the infamous swinging bridge right below the dam were put in to place in the spring of 1925. All the buildings materials were donated at that time.  The buildings that were being erected were the dining hall, the administration building, and 4 cabins. The cabins were the Oneida, Chippewa, Algonquin, and the Cayuga. And the pond was completely filled in the summer and the bridge over East Sandy Creek was already in use. Camp Coffman was officially opened to the public on July 21st, 1925. Shortly after the opening of Camp Coffman there was a destructive fire to the Oneida Cabin ignited by lighting. It was rebuilt and in normal conditions in the matter of 2 weeks.

In 1932 there were more buildings placed on the grounds of Camp Coffman. They were the Nature Lodge, Trading Post, Infirmary, Canoe storage shed and 2 more cabins they are the Onondaga and Iroquois. All of the materials were donated for the construction of these buildings.  Of all the construction of the cabins, Cayuga is the biggest it can sleep over 20 men. The rest are all accommodated to sleep 10 men. Also in this eventful year Camp Coffman was awarded the host of the Col. Drake Council banquet. It hosted over 65 different troops and parents of the boys.

In 1933 the trails of Camp Coffman were all cleared and ready for any adventurous camper or outdoorsman. They led to various different landmarks throughout the grounds of the camp. The trail that was made across from the swinging bridge led to many famous Indian landmarks. One of the most famous landmarks is Deer Rock. Deer Rock is located 0.5 miles on the northern trail leading to the Algonquin cabins. There is a mystery behind deer rock. That is a young Seneca brave committed a crude sin toward his father and was sentenced to create an art piece in trade for his life. The chief would judge the young warriors art piece and if the chief didnít think the warrior put enough of his heart into the piece he would be sacrificed to the god of life.  So the young warrior carved a stone in the shape of a mature male whitetail deer, which still stands. So the same night as the judging the young brave was placed upon the top of rock, which he had poured his heart into his artwork. The chief lit the fire under his feet and he was burned to death atop the rock.

Then there is Balancing rock. It is located 2.5 miles on the north trail from the swinging bridge. This by far is the most interesting location on Camp Coffman. When you approach the base of this rock formation you look up and see a very large rock on top of that there is a very small rock no wider than 6 feet across then on top of that very small rock is a very large rock about 11feet across. There are many speculations on how the very large rock was put atop the very minute one. One of the most reasonable ones is that the rock was put there by glaciers thousands of years ago. Another one is that is was a physical test for 10 warriors from the early beginning of the Seneca Indian tribe. They had to push the   large rock up the backside of the little mountain and had to lift it upon the other rock. I personally wish to not have any indication on how it happened I enjoy the mysterious ways of early settlers.

Then thereís Eagle rock, it is located along the upper side of the dam located over 5 miles up stream. The rock was carved in 1643 thatís what the date says on the rock it is shaped in the form of a bald eagle.

In 1978 Camp Coffman was abandon by the BSAíS. They abandon it because the enrollment of the boy scouts dramatically fell and the lack of interest in the camp made it crumble in to past memories. In 1984 Clinton Hepler owner of Seneca Hardwoods bought it from the scouts and timbered the camp until 1987. Then Hepler donated the camp to Fertigis Church, which manages the camp to this day. The current caretakers of Camp Coffman are Bill and Laura Evans. They live there with their 2 children.

I think Camp Coffman benefited this area a great deal when it existed. It provided many outdoor occasions for many young teens and adults. The only negative affect that Camp Coffman has is that I think not enough people have visited this great place of beauty and adventure. Camp Coffman contributed to the state of PA. When it was chosen for the Col. Drake Council banquet it hosted many local people and people from the state of PA.  

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Page designed by Zak, Class of 2003

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Bridge at Camp Coffman
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Camp Coffman waterfall
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