Probably there are a number of people in Trumbull County who have fond memories of camping experiences at beautiful 4-H Camp Whitewood in Windsor, Ashtabula County. Those experiences could be many and varied, but the most lasting could be the friendships made that have endured over the years.
4-H Camp Whitewood provided a setting for lasting friendships, as well as many other pleasant and fun experiences. Some of these might include the singing after meals, the evening campfire programs planned and held by the campers themselves, the conservation hikes, swimming and crafts. Or perhaps they were the long hikes down through the gorge and up the old logging trail to vesper hill for a quiet time and vesper service, again with camper involvement.
Hikes, also up the old logging trail or around the road to footprint rock for the hot dog and marshmallow roast were all part of a typical camping experience that brings people back to 4-H camp for visits and memories of the good times they had.
Today, 4-H camp is far different from the primitive facilities of the early camping days. Yet camping experiences of early days were just as much fun and meaningful as they can be today. Early campers didn't expect the modern facilities that are necessary these days.
My involvement in 4-H Camp Whitewood goes back many years. When I was county agricultural agent in Ashtabula County and a member of the camp board of trustees in the late 1950s, we recognized the need for modern flush toilets. At that time, we only owned seven acres donated by Tom L. White of Geauga County.
To make the major investments to get an adequate water supply and modernize the facilities, we had to own more land. As chairman of a land acquisition committee, we negotiated with Mr. White for more acreage. To our surprise, since he was interested in 4-H and youth, he agreed to sell us about 225 acres. This included the beautiful gorge on the east side of Wiswell Road and a house and more land on the west side.
This gave us plenty of land to go ahead and make the necessary improvements, but money had to be raised to buy the land. Mr. White carried a mortgage for us and, with faith in 4-H members and advisers, funds were raised to pay the mortgage in just four years.
Over the years, 4-H members and others from Trumbull County as well as six other counties have continued to experience enjoyable times at Whitewood. These time often are the first experiences of being away from home and living closely with others. A touch of homesickness often sets in and, for some 9- or 10-year-old campers, is difficult to deal with. Yet with the help of camp counselors, friends and trained staff, most campers learn to handle being away from home for the first time.
4-H Camp Whitewood programs are an educational function of the Ohio State University Extension Service. The camp is owned by a corporation formed by the extension. Except for a state grant to develop a new water system, no tax dollars have been involved in the construction of the camp.
About five years ago, governmental regulations required that a new sewage system be built by camp at a cost of about $500,000. Through donations from individuals and fundraising by 4-H members, enough money was raised to go ahead with this project, no small undertaking.
So 4-H members and others continue to enjoy the varied camping experiences in a setting unlike any other in northeastern Ohio. Thanks to the interest and involvement of 4-H members and advisers over the years that have made these educational experiences possible.
Parker is retired from the Ohio State University and an independent writer for the Tribune.