The caretakers of Camp Pioneer want area residents to know that the facility can do more than just play host to Randolph County 4-H camp.
"A lot of people don't realize what we have up here," Donnie Pritt, manager of Camp Pioneer, told The Inter-Mountain in a recent interview. "It's available for long-term camps, yes, but it's also available for weekend retreats, meetings, reunions and weddings."
Situated in a pristine rural area just 3 miles east of Beverly, Camp Pioneer currently offers 36 campsites, 30- and 50-amp electric/water/sewer hookups, fishing ponds, a combined shower house-restroom facility, picnic tables, a playground, dormitories, an agricultural complex with a barn and arena, and a Vesper Knoll, which Pritt said is an excellent nondenominational location for weddings as well as meditation and prayer.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Katie Kuba
On Friday, Julius Cantwell installs ceiling tile in Camp Pioneer’s assembly hall, which is currently in the midst of receiving a makeover.
"A lot of people think that because it's used two weeks out of the year for a 4-H camp that it's just for 4-H camp, but it's not," Pritt said. Not only does Camp Pioneer function as an official Red Cross-approved emergency shelter in times of natural disaster, it's also home to many popular annual events, such as the Randolph County Fair and an annual ox roast.
In fact, efforts have been under way - especially in the last 15 years - to spruce Camp Pioneer up in an effort to make it a more fitting locale for conferences and various family/community festivities.
Camp Pioneer spent about $60,000 on renovations in 2012, Dr. Tracy Walker, president of the Randolph County Park and Recreation Board, said last week. It recently added all-new doors, windows, lights and a heating and cooling system to its assembly hall and dining room; an Americans with Disabilities Act-approved restroom facility has likewise been installed in the dining hall.
And more restoration initiatives are in the works.
"In the next year, we're looking at renovating the kitchen, which is probably going to be a $150,000 renovation that we have zero money for right now," Walker said. "We're trying to get better about having a five-year plan and laying out where we want camp to be in the next five years."
Not only has Camp Pioneer been upgrading its actual facility, it's also been revamping its place in cyberspace, having started up a website - located at www.camppioneerwv.com - and a Facebook page.
"What's escalated in the last couple years is that we're having more and more money come in, so we're being able to do a lot of good things and stay on top of things," Walker said. The money has come in the form of state-funded grants; private monetary and in-kind donations from citizens and groups such as the Tygart Valley Lions Club; and support from the Randolph County Commission.
Interested parties may donate to specific Camp Pioneer projects and initiatives via an account the camp has established with the West Virginia University Foundation, Walker said.
"People can actually make a tax-deductible donation in memoriam for somebody and they can label it to the camp to be used for capital improvements, building renovations or another specific project," Walker said.
In addition to the kitchen renovation, Camp Pioneer is also trying to scare up about $8,000 in funds to hook up a new AV system in the assembly hall. Completing work on the kitchen in the agricultural complex is also high on Camp Pioneer's priority list, since doing so would make the facility more suitable for dinners.
"We need to pack this place every week and weekend night," Pritt said. "We need to keep this place going.
"It just seems like there could be a lot more meetings out here, as well as day retreats and luncheons," Walker said. "And aside from certain times in the summer when we're sometimes limited, we want people to know we're available."
To learn more, visit camppioneerwv.com or call Pritt at 304-636-3638 or 304-621-3638.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.