The Westside YMCA & Camp Takatoka change the lives of every camper that attends Camp. It would be hard to say what Tulsa would be like we’re it not for the 50+ years they have been located on Turkey Mountain. The TUWC’s own Government Affairs Officer is just one of those lives forever changed. This change has caused a ripple effect for good. Right now the YMCA is hosting its annual drive for funds to support scholarships to make camp a reality for those who could not afford it otherwise. Please donate or at least share the word. This is where we change the future.
To donate to the YMCA CLICK HERE
My brother and I came to the Westside YMCA in the summer of 1976 when I was 10 years old and my brother was 13. At some point earlier that year, Jay Logan had befriended our family and suggested to our mother that the programs the Y offered for children would be really good for Kevin and I. Our father had passed away a couple of years prior to this. Not only did we attend the day camp but we also went to Camp Takatoka many times, and I went on several of the Y ski trips to Snow Mountain Ranch near Winter Park in Colorado over the years. The Westside YMCA day camp gave my brother and I opportunities that young men usually get to discover with a father. I still recall riding up into the land to the south of the camp on horseback or hiking around up there with our counselor. Through my experience at the Westside Y, I gained an appreciation for horses and and the outdoors which continues today as I near 50. Well, I have traded horses for a mountain bike since I need the outlet for exercise.
This camp meant two fatherless young men got to experience the outdoors and all it had to offer while our mother was able to hold down a full time job in the summer and did not have to worry about where we were or what we were doing. We were in great hands the entire time. Camp Takatoka awakened my sense of spirituality and there are friendships made at that camp which still figure prominently in my life. My career with a family business I have worked for the last ten years, was the result of a friendship originally made through Y ski trips and Camp Tak. These programs and camps change lives and are an important resource that help make Tulsa the great place it is to live. I can honestly say the YMCA experience positively impacted my life and has much to do with the man I am today.
My brother became the youth coordinator in his church largely because of the experiences he had from Y programs. From that experience, he understood the importance of positive mentorship to young women and men. He passed away 14 years ago, but I know his influence is still perpetuated in other’s lives. The seeds planted by the YMCA programs do influence and affect people who never even got to have the experience Kevin and I did with these programs. I realize my mother probably sacrificed quite a bit to pay the tuition for the programs, but I’m certain she will tell you it was worth every penny.
Today, when I speak about these memories and experiences in my volunteer capacity with the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, I get a slight knot in my throat because they really are a significant part of my character. I do apologize if my reasons might sound a bit emotional or personal. For me, this camp and programs were a life-changing experience I believe every child who wants to should have.
Needless to say, I was shocked when I first heard the plans for the outlet mall to the south of the camp. It’s not only my avid use of Turkey Mountain today that makes me want to fend this off, it’s also the fond memories of the Westside Y and what I would like to help protect for generations of area children to come. I have reviewed Simon’s plans in depth, have had face-to-face meetings with John Dionis and Jessica Fields, and monitored the PRC meeting at INCOG. I cannot see, in any scenario, how the impact of this project can be minimized to future generations of campers. The huge retaining wall and all the noise, trash, and activity malls attract are such a shock to the senses when you are expecting peaceful wilderness.
Do understand, there is movement underway to secure funding to take this property out of play for development permanently should Simon be rebuffed on their zoning change request. Trail users do not want to face the threat of development every one or two years any more than the Westside YMCA does. That fund drive is a top priority once this threat has been fended off and is being carefully organized as this is written.