BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Youth Camp isn’t just for 4-H. In fact, anyone can rent out this idyllic location along the Buckhannon River in southern Upshur County, complete with a pool, kitchen and several halls and cabins that can sleep more than 200 people.
The Upshur County Youth Camp has been home to 4-H since 1942, but secretary/treasurer Thanna Wentz said the camp eventually opened up for other uses as well.
“Initially, this was a 4-H camp, but because of federal funding, we had to change it to not just apply to 4-H but it had to apply to all youth,” Wentz said. “That’s why we changed the name. It’s still a 4-H camp, but it’s under another name now.”
Greg Woody, the director of the Upshur County Youth Camp, said the site now hosts band camps, weddings, church groups, family reunions and of course 4-H camp.
“The 4-H camp started in ’42, and it’s amazing that you get to talk to people who return after spending time here in 4-H camp or for church camp and and they want to come back,” Woody said. “We get a lot of visitors, especially in spring when people want to get out, and they just drop by to see the camp and say hi because it was such a memorable time in their life.”
Wentz said reunions and weddings are poplar because entire families have memories they have made at the camp.
“I spoke with a lady whose family is having a reunion, and she said there are five generations of that family who are returning to camp,” Wentz said. “It means a lot that they’re coming back year after year, with more family each time.”
The camp grounds feature Heavner Hall, which can sleep 120 people, as well as four other halls that sleep 40 people each and three cabins that sleep 10 to 12 people each. A basketball court, volleyball net, horseshoe pits and a pool provide plenty of options for activities, and the camp is next to a river that is stocked with trout by the DNR in the spring for fishing.
“One of our biggest selling points for camps is the fact we don’t have cell phone service out here,” Wentz said. “If you’re wanting to teach the children something and they’re messing with their phones, they’re not learning, they’re not listening to what you’re saying. [Not having service] gets them to try out the activities of the camp.”
The camp is busiest in the summer months of June, July and August, but Woody said the camp also rents out the individual cabins to hunters for buck season.
“Summer is our biggest season because the kids are out of school, and then things slow down, but we still keep busy in the fall,” Woody said. “Every year we usually have a wedding or two, and then as the fall goes on we we open up to the deer hunters just to have a place to spend the night, because we’re much closer to where they go to hunt than any of the hotels.”
In the winter months the camp closes for renovations and upgrades to its facilities. Wentz said they would eventually like to also host groups in the winter.
“Our dream is to someday have an assembly hall where we could have fall and winter camps,” Wentz said. “Right now our assembly hall is not is quite winter friendly.”
The camp is always happy to accept additional support as well. An upcoming benefit dinner is set for Aug. 23 at Fish Hawk Farm in Rock Cave with tickets costing $25.
“They are going to be several events going on during the dinner, and we’d like to invite everybody,” Wentz said.”The youth camp always needs more supporters.”
People looking to reserve the Upshur County Youth Camp can call the camp at 304-924-5356. Tickets for the benefit can be purchased from any of the camp’s board members, including Glenn Hawkins, Debra Hull, Gini Croaff and Craig Presar, or from Wentz (304-472-1289) and Woody (304-924-5356). Tickets can also be purchased at the Upshur County Clerks Office, WVU Extension Office, Rock Cave IGA, Fish Hawk Acres restaurant on Main Street, and the Upshur County Youth Camp.