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Pool is first goal of 4-H’s camp restoration

Officials at Kanawha County's only 4-H camp have big plans in store for the 400-acre site near Sissonville.

Eventually, they want to refurbish the old barns to provide horseback riding for campers and cut timber to clear the way for an indoor shooting range.

These efforts, among others, could restore Camp Virgil Tate to its former glory as a regional destination for campers, extension agent Kerri Wade said.

But the first order of business is restoring the camp's outdoor swimming pool, which closed in 2008 and has continued to fall into ruin ever since.

"If you were a kid, would you want to go to a camp without a pool?" Wade said.

The West Virginia University Extension Service hopes to raise enough money this year to refurbish the pool. So far, about $200,000 has been collected. But estimates for the project run in the range of $700,000.

"So we're not a third of the way there yet," she said.

Every cent helps. That's why 4-Hers around Putnam and Kanawha are asking for spare change, Wade said. Plastic jugs are being placed outside of stores in both counties to help raise money for the project.

"The 4-H clubs are asking people to throw their change in the jugs," Wade said.

Wade said the extension service and the Kanawha County 4-H Foundation are looking at other fundraising possibilities. The foundation runs Camp Virgil Tate.

Both organizations are planning a "Meet Santa Breakfast" this December to help raise funds, Wade said, adding that the event last year was very successful.

"I think we had about 400 people there," she said.

A silent auction and an all-you-can-eat pancake and sausage breakfast were held during the event.

The pool has been in dire need of repairs for many years, she said. Wade believes it was built in the 1960s and has been "patched" many times.

Now the pool leaks so badly it cannot hold water.

Pools attract youth organizations, which now are booking their camps elsewhere, she said.

Future projects will also require significant funds. An indoor shooting range would also require that a section of the camp be timbered, and Wade said a forest management plan would have to be created before that could happen.

Therefore, Wade is in need of a forester to create a management plan for the timber on the campgrounds, she said.

"We're hoping to get a forester to donate their time to do this," Wade said.

Anyone wishing to donate cash to the pool project can write a check to the West Virginia University Foundation. Camp Virgil Tate should be written in the memo line.

The check should be mailed to Wade at 4700 MacCorkle Avenue SE Suite 101, Charleston, WV 25304.

Any forester wishing to get involved should call Wade at 304-720-9573.      

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon.


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