Endowment launched for 4-H camps

Published 5:44 am Tuesday, March 15, 2016


A first-of-its-kind endowment has been launched in Buckingham to provide more financial assistance to 4-H campers.

Organizers are seeking to raise $50,000 in the next five years to provide more scholarship money to youth seeking financial assistance during the annual summer week-long camp.

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“We’re raising the funds so that we can meet our priority needs within the 4-H program,” said Ruth Wallace, Buckingham’s 4-H youth development extension agent. “Right now, our number one priority is scholarships for 4-H camp. We want every youth in Buckingham County to be able to have a life-changing 4-H camp experience.”

During the annual camps, held at Holiday Lake 4-H Center in Appomattox, students learn by doing, and participate in leadership development, performing arts, outdoor adventure, sports, forestry, environmental and aquatic science and much more.

The camps offers numerous skill sets, such as decision making, self care and independence.

“It’s a mountain compared to what we can do spread throughout the year … We want everyone to be able to have that opportunity. We currently are giving out about $2,000 in scholarship money every year that’s combined for 4-H camp and day camps,” Wallace said.

Sherry Ragland, a longtime volunteer who serves as chair of the Buckingham Extension Leadership Council and district manager for the Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District, heard about the idea during a training seminar.

“I just feel like we’re limited with resources within our community. It can only be but so many of our business people slammed to death for donations,” said Ragland, a member of the county’s school board. “I figured that this would be a vested interest with the people in our community to do that. I don’t look at is as something that (will cover) 100 percent (of the costs). I think that parents still need to have a vested interest in it themselves as well.”

The endowment is also in response to an increased need in scholarship funds, Wallace said.

“You put the money in and you never take it out, but you get the interest income off of it every year. And, our goal is to raise $50,000 in the next five years.”

The interest from the principal investment would net about $2,000 annually, based on current interest rates.

“That’s what we’re spending in scholarship money right now, but if we can continue to get that same $2,000 that we’ve been able to get over the past several years, and we can double it with this $2,000, then we can send that many more kids on scholarships,” Wallace said.

A priority of the endowment money will be scholarships for the camps, which have a standard cost of about $200 per attendee.

“We’ve got a lot of low-income youth who would love to go who aren’t able to go, and we want to enable them to attend,” Wallace said.

“We have five years to build the endowment. The endowment will be housed with the Virginia 4-H Foundation, which is a subset held within the Virginia Tech Foundation,” she said. “We have ambassadors who are … adults in Buckingham who will be going out and asking people for donations,” she said.

During March, every gift up to $5,000 will be matched by the Melvin C. Draft Foundation, she said.

Donors can make a one-time gift or make an annual pledge. “We realize we can’t achieve our goal overnight,” she said,

Each year, about 65 campers and 15 teens and five adults from Buckingham attend the camp, Wallace said.

“With our $2,000 that we’re giving out right now, about $1,000 of that is earmarked for first-time campers. But, we want to keep them coming back. And if they’re not able to come back without some help, we need to be able to have additional funds to keep them coming back.”

“They (the 4-H centers) have an overhead they have to meet and things that they have to do,” Ragland said of the camp expenses. “We’re asking people all over the county (to give).”

To make a donation or a pledge or for more information, contact Wallace at (434) 969-4261 or email ruwallac@vt.edu, or contact Ragland at (434) 983-7923 or email sherry.ragland@vaswcd.org.