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Who we are
History
Often members are asked by non-members what the Nor-Ton Red Jacket Club is all about. Most local people have heard of us. But not all know who we are or what we are all about.

The Nor-Ton Red Jacket Club, Inc., is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation established in 1984. The Club's mission is to provide low-cost camping and outdoor opportunities to area youth groups. We equip, maintain and operate a youth park, containing facilities for wholesome entertainment, instruction and social, athletic and sport opportunities under adult supervision in order to improve the physical health and the mental condition of children and youth. We seek to inculcate in children and youth a desire and ability to do things for themselves and others, to train them in outdoor skills and to teach them patriotism, courage, self reliance and kindred virtues; and to inculcate and promote friendship and civic responsibility among children and youth.

We are a membership organization. Our members are all volunteers, who provide all the necessary services required in maintaining and operating the Park and raising the donations necessary to do so. We have no paid staff. Membership is open to all adults over the age of 18. The only requirement for each member is to provide 40 volunteer hours of service a year. Many of our members put in hundreds more hours a year than those required. The enthusiasm of our members is contagious.

Donations or money, goods, or services are always gratefully accepted and appreciated.

The Nor-Ton Red Jacket Club obtained the permit for the former Shady Hollow Girl Scout Camp at 1601 Sweeney Street in North Tonawanda in 1986. Shady Hollow had been an active Girl Scout camp since 1948.

We named the park after Donald F. Miller, who, as Secretary of the Club, originally inquired about the closing of the Girl Scout camp. Mr. Miller initiated procedures to acquire the camp in 1985. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly thereafter.
In order to honor Mr. Miller's service to the Boy Scouts and to the Nor-Ton Red Jacket Club, it was decided that, if our organization were able to acquire the camp, it should be named after Mr. Miller. In 1986 by New York State Permit, the Club became the soul caretakers of this camp.

In December 1989, the existing cabin was destroyed by fire. "Uncle John's Cabin" was built in 1993. This handicapped-accessible cabin contains thirty bunks, tables, chairs, heat, and a fully equipped kitchen. The roomy, comfortable cabin also has a TV, VCR, and a complete sound system.

Various improvements were made to the camp between 1993 and 1997 including the construction of a parking lot, new shelter roofs, nature trails, a cross-over bridge, and an axe yard. Several programs were developed, including snowshoeing, canoeing, orienteering, and later on, fishing.

The "Thelma & Walter Balling Cabin" was built in 1998 by the Kiwanis Club of the Tonawandas, with funding from the Estate of Thelma and Walter Balling. This cabin is well suited for smaller groups of boys and girls. The cabin includes twenty bunks, tables, chairs, stove, refrigerator, and sink.

In 1998 a one-car garage was donated by a neighbor. It was lifted off its foundation and delivered to Donald F. Miller Park by the owner. There are four shelters scattered throughout the camp. They make excellent small group camping sites.

In 1998, Bush Athletic Field was completed by Bush Topsoil. This field has over two acres of recreation space. The Council Ring, a ceremonial ring, provides bench seating for 200 people, complete with a stage and fire ring. We also have a Cross Over Bridge, which is ideal for cross over ceremonies, Eagle Courts of Honor, campfires, or other events.

In recent years a butterfly habitat has been developed in the park. This scenic area is abundant with fragrant flowers. The arched trellis and wood-chipped pathway is a peaceful spot for meditation.

Many area children's and youth groups utilize our facilities. Included in the facility donation for their usage, each group may request one program with instructors and equipment. Programs offered include canoeing, orienteering, snowshoeing, fishing, and most recently project adventure games.

In January 2000, a twenty-year lease, with two ten-year extensions, was signed with the New York State Canal Corporation for the continued use of the 24.32 acres of Donald F. Miller Park. Miller Park is located on the historic Erie Canal.