Many leaders in Richmond County can recall spending summers of their youth at Millstone 4-H Camp. Many of those former campers have sent their children to the camp as well.
At a press conference on Monday at the Millstone 4-H Camp, Camp Director Gene Shutt welcomed the audience as former campers.
“We have all come home in a special kind of way,” he said.
Leaders and officials from Richmond County to Raleigh attended the event, during which SECU members presented a $1 million challenge grant for the SECU 4-H Learning Center.
Based on the concept of the clover-leaf, the new complex will have four parts that will link up together to form a North Carolina 4-H Museum. One part of the clover will be the House That Peanuts Built, which is being kept as an exhibit and museum that showcases the first 100 years of 4-H. The man that built the house did so after establishing a roasted peanut business based on a 4-H project he started as a youth. The second part of the clover is the Hudson Courtyard and Garden, which is being built now. The courtyard itself will be shaped like a clover, with benches to sit on. The courtyard will have a flagpole, and will serve as a general gathering place. The Farm Shop will make up the third part of the clover. The Farm Bureau Federation donated $75,000 to have the building refurbished. The store will have “vintage implements,” a greenhouse and a learning laboratory. The fourth part of the clover will be the “crown jewel” of Millstone; the SECU Learning Center will be a state of the art facility with classrooms, hands-on learning laboratories and a theater.
In Malcolm Hawkins’ description of the learning center, he described why this was being built.
“We do it for our young folk because we care about their future, but they need to know where they come from,” he said.
Hawkins said Millstone was chosen because of its central location in North Carolina and because of its rich history of 4-H involvement.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to place something of such importance to North Carolina in Richmond County,” said Hawkins. “This will be a year-round facility, not just a summer camp.”
Hawkins went on to explain where a bus drop-off will be located, and that the bathrooms would be nice as well, due to the likelihood of increased traffic with not just visitors and students, but horseback riders and campers as well.
Camping children attended the event as well. At one point during the conference, children representing various counties from all over the state expressed their thanks to the SECU board that was present.
Dr. Barbara Parramore was present to discuss the education programs that are being considered for the future SECU 4-H Learning Center. Parramore shared her experiences of working at Millstone in 1951, ‘52 and ‘53 during the summer as a camp counselor while she was in college.
“There were a lot more woods than I see today,” she said. “Much of what I learned about teaching and learning I learned here. There’s so much we can do with the learning center. There are so many topics worth knowing. The projects at 4-H always had meaning.”
Parramore explained that the 4-H learning model used at the camp has been successful throughout time, and research showed that the model has lasted the longest. Making plans, carrying out the plans while making notes of progress, then reporting on the findings give greater meaning to the tasks accomplished.
Executive Director of Development at N.C. Cooperative Extension Service Foundation Sharon Rowland spoke to the audience as well.
“Lots of things can happen here. We are looking at Rankin Museum in Ellerbe and Discovery Place KIDS coming to Rockingham. We see the opportunities here. Investing in our young people is the most important thing we can do for our future. We decided to do this as a challenge grant to get people excited to become a part of this. We encourage kids to become involved in the process. Whether they save up in a piggy bank and buy a brick or save up as a class and buy a room, there are plenty of opportunities here to name things. So many things can happen because of the generosity of people.”
Rowland said that when the planning for this project began, the board members were given a challenge of $100,000, which they all met by getting out their private checkbooks.
“I think that’s a testament to the people who want to carry this tradition on,” said Rowland.
The SECU 4-H Learning Center at Millstone 4-H Camp is scheduled to be completed within two years.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at email@example.com.