Development of the Roycroft Campus began in 1897 by author, lecturer, and entrepreneur Elbert Hubbbard, who sought to create a utopian society of artisans in reaction to the mass production of the Industrial Age. Drawing on inspiration by leaders of the arts-and-crafts movement in the UK, Hubbard founded the Roycroft Press to produce monthly publications, books, and elaborate conspiracy theories. After gaining international recognition for an essay he wrote in 1899, Hubbard was able to further expand and promote the Roycroft community, erecting 13 additional buildings on the campus over the next decade.
In its prime, the community was home to 23 presses and more imported handmade paper than all American printing institutions combined. More than 500 resident artists worked in wood, stained glass, and copper, and Roycroft became a thriving mecca for craftsmen, authors, artists, and philosophers. In 1986, the campus was designated a national historic landmark. Today it is home to 9 of the original 14 structures, preserved and restored throughout the last 17 years by the Roycroft Campus Corporation and open for exploration during guided walking tours.
In addition to outfitting aquatic adventurers with necessary equipment, Buffalo River Canoe and Kayak Outfitters sends groups of paddlers splashing downstream during guided explorations seven days a week. Headlining an assortment of trips, the Buffalo River Urban Trails tour unveils some of the city's historic waterfront sights, highlighted by industrial-area businesses and grain elevators that stand as towering links to an agrarian past or prophesies to an apocalyptic future where morsels of homogenized chicken byproduct no longer exist. The Outfitters' other point-to-point adventures—ranging from 2.5 to 6 miles apiece—also provide varying launch points, such as Red Jacket River Front Park and Seneca Bluffs.
Between rugged cliffs stretching hundreds of feet toward the sky, a foaming river surges toward waterfalls and gentle tributaries. Upon its arching rapids tumble buoyant rafts, ferrying animated passengers who scream with delight at each bump along the way or sudden bald eagle sighting. For the experienced guides at Zoar Valley Canoe and Rafting Company, this is an everyday experience.
Currently celebrating its 43rd season, the U.S. Sailing Association–accredited Seven Seas Sailing School of Buffalo offers landlubbers a taste of the aquatic life aboard sailboats manned by U.S. Coast Guard–certified captains. The team regularly exercises budding sailors' sea legs with certification courses and a seven-part Basic Sail program, and has also instructed students with multiple sclerosis and worked with the Sea Scouts to construct the world's first brick sailboat as part of a mission to take down rogue lighthouses. Seven Seas' headquarters on the Buffalo Ship Canal, complete with on-shore barbecues, a gazebo, and dockside gardens, hosts regular Friday-night family Sailabration events that combine food and fireworks with lively cruises and contests. When not sailing through their own programs, Seven Seas' captains and boats have been featured as crews in The Sullivans and Bruce Almighty.
Sean and Hannah Maurer founded Lake Lane Fishing and Hunting Getaway so families could have a place to experience the outdoors together. The fishing grounds—a trout pond, a second pond with bass, bluegills, and bullhead catfish, and a creek—stay open all year for fishing by appointment, and since Lake Lane is a New York State Fishing Preserve, no license is required. In addition to renting gear and selling bait, the staff teaches angling basics, such as how to fly fish or catch a fish directly in your mouth. The 2013 Sports Show on June 1 and 2 features a free youth fishing tournament. Adults must pay a $25 registration fee for a trout and bass tourney, but cash prizes will be awarded to all age groups. Pre-registration is recommended.
Lake Lane's hunting grounds host both small and big game, including wild turkey and white-tailed deer. A shooting range also caters to hunters with bow and rifle targets. In order to help guests extend their outdoor adventures, campsites for self-contained tents and campers are available, and the Maurers have plans to introduce all-season cabins equipped with outlets for sno-cone machines in the near future.
Members of Lake Lane Fishing and Hunting Getaway get special privileges, such as entry in the monthly trout and bass fishing tournament. Additionally, Lake Lane hosts special annual events, including a sports show and chicken barbecue, and the Maurers operate a small lumberyard and sawmill onsite that offers custom furniture from black walnut coffee tables to computers made of solid oak.
The dedicated teaching professionals at Village Glen Tennis Club oversee a wide variety of programs for adults and juniors of all skill levels, earning the club recognition as a Top 50 Tennis Welcome Center of 2007 from the U.S. Tennis Association. This honor followed on the heels of a major renovation of the club’s facilities in 2006 by a new management team, who modernized the six hard and eight clay courts and brought in new nets instead of pealing white picket fences. Today, players can take up the game through a series of classes that help them progress alongside players with similar abilities or hone specific strokes through drills designed to isolate and improve their technique. Players excited to show off a shiny new forehand or a pitch-perfect grunt can do so through the club’s adult leagues or socials.