Remember the Past - Iowa 4-H Foundation

Remember the Past

Iowa 4-H Center historical photoIt began as a dream in the late 1940's. The setting was a campfire circle at an Extension staff training session where a Mr. Hopkins, Meredith Corporation representative, asked the group to make a wish for 4-H. The group wished for a camping facility in central Iowa. Hopkins then lifted a dollar out of his pocket and said, "I'll contribute the first dollar toward the formation of a state 4-H camp."

The campfire session sparked a statewide fund-raising drive with a goal of raising $500,000. Nearly seventy-five percent of the funds came from farm families and 4-H members. Ray Oelkers, retired county extension director, remembers how he helped raise the money for the camp.

"I took my Hiawatha bicycle and started pedaling from farm to farm in my neighborhood, asking for a dollar donation to help 4-H kids get a 4-H camp. I don't remember being turned down at any place. I think I collected 9 or 10 dollars at the time."

Other lead gifts to the 4-H Camping Center included the first business gift from the E.T. Meredith Foundation; the first memorial from Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Bell, Sr. of Pulaski; and the first personal contribution of $1,000 from John Coverdale of Waterloo. Additional corporate support came from Iowa Grain and Feed Association, Iowa Banker's Association, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, FS Corporation, and Iowa Rural Electric Cooperatives.

The first tract of land for the camping center was purchased in 1950, and the dream came true in the summer of 1952 when the first group of 4-H members camped at the site.

The Iowa 4-H Foundation still carries the spirit that ignited a small group of individuals to dream big. Today, the dream has stretched far beyond the campfire circle.

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