January 15, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman
PRINCETON, Ky.

If you’ve ever worked at the West Kentucky 4-H camp as a 4-H agent, manager or leader, bring your pillow and memories for a weekend of activities that will feel very familiar.

Tim McGinnis and his brother, Tom, have been talking about a reunion for several years and with the help of people within the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service as well as community members who have fond memories of their days at camp, they are planning a May 16 through 18 reunion.

The Christian County natives worked at the camp for 15 years – Tom for six summers and Tim for nine. Today, Tom is a business owner in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Tim is superintendent of schools in Trigg County.

“We have such fond memories of working at camp and the relationships that evolved,” Tim McGinnis said.

Everyone is excited about the reunion and rekindling friendships forged in cabins and around campfires.

The goal of the reunion is three-fold. First and foremost it is to have fun and remember the old days. That will be helped by participating in many of the traditional activities that take place each year at camp such as a flag raising, campfires and cleanup duties, said Karen Ramage, Green River Extension Area program director.

Additionally, the reunion will allow the University to get a better understanding of how camp experience has impacted the lives of those who worked there. Now, the knowledge is mostly anecdotal, Ramage noted.

As 4-H looks to the future, this reunion also can be the groundwork to build coalitions within the community to help camp administrators determine the needs of camps. Also, financial support of this and other camps could be a factor in tight budgetary times and outside funding may be a part of camps’ futures along with boards of directors to help oversee camp needs.

The UK College of Agriculture, which oversees 4-H, has limited funds, McGinnis said, and the reunion may motivate some fund-raising to help maintain the camp.

“We need to look at the needs so we can assure young 4-Hers and college students opportunities into the future,” he said.

The main emphasis for organizers in the coming weeks is finding people who worked at the camp, with the primary focus on those who worked there prior to 1980. Retired UK College of Agriculture administrator Glenn McNabb has records of those who worked there in the 1970s and Epsilon Sigma Phi also has compiled a list of county agents.

Information will be sent in February to former workers but the names of many of those who were youth leaders and workers at the camp are still being sought, Ramage said. They are working with local Extension offices and other former workers to try to find as many former camp workers as possible.

Marcia Kuegel Carpenter, Daviess County High School guidance counselor, is helping plan the reunion and said she is looking forward to it.

“My 4-H years are some of the best memories I have,” she said. “I value the bonds and friendships I made and am looking forward to renewing them.”

Carpenter attended 4-H camp for 10 years and worked on the camp staff for two years. She also worked as a 4-H agent and on the state 4-H staff in Lexington.

The West Kentucky camp, located at Dawson Springs in Hopkins County, became a part of the University in 1951 and the first structure on the 452-acre camp was built that same year.

Over the years, thousands of adult and teen leaders have assisted at one of the camps offered each summer by one of the 36 counties that make up the West Kentucky camping group.

Anyone who once worked at the camp or knows someone who did can contact any of the county Extension offices in western Kentucky.

Contact: 

Karen Ramage, (270) 365-7541 ext. 239