Camp Clifton collecting donations after coronavirus summer shutdown

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Camp Clifton is having a fundraiser to help with the upkeep of the 4-H camp.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

With a lost summer ahead, 4-H Camp Clifton is asking for donations to help it survive the fall and winter.

“We’re just trying to sustain our business until next May,” camp executive director Glen Satchell said, noting insurance alone is $14,000 at the facility that first opened in 1929.

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The 78-acre camp, which is located on Clifton Road south of Springfield and east of Yellow Springs and John Bryan State Park, annually hosts the 4-H camps of Clark, Champaign, Greene, Madison, Union, Shelby, Logan, Preble and Fayette counties.

However, Ohio State University Extension canceled all summer camps for 2020 last month with the state under a stay-at-home order issued by the Ohio Department of Health and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

As a result, Clark County 4-H Extension Educator Patricia House said OSU set up fundraisers for all of the state’s 4-H camp facilities.

“Just like all businesses, 4-H camps require funding to keep the cabin doors open,” said House, who is a member of the camp board and the director of Clark County’s 4-H camp. “Money raised through the Camp Clifton Buckeye Funder will help keep the campfire burning for future 4-H camp experiences. Without it, the camp gate could be closed.”

Terry Satchell walks past a sign at Camp Clifton dedicated to the international staff that have worked at the 4-H summer camp over the years. Terry and her husband, Glen, have been the camp directors for over 30 years and are having an online fund raiser to help pay for the upkeep of the camp since they can’t have any campers this year. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
Terry Satchell walks past a sign at Camp Clifton dedicated to the international staff that have worked at the 4-H summer camp over the years. Terry and her husband, Glen, have been the camp directors for over 30 years and are having an online fund raiser to help pay for the upkeep of the camp since they can’t have any campers this year. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Aside from more than 2,000 4-H campers per year, Camp Clifton typically hosts a daycamp and other groups such as churches, band camps and family reunions, but Satchell said 4-H camps represent 84 percent of his budget.

That means even with DeWine’s order being converted to a “strong recommendation” and the state allowing more activities this summer, the cost of getting the camp into shape for the season was too high to justify opening at all this year.

The nonprofit also had to turn away 20 prospective employees, leaving Satchell and his wife, Terry, the assistant director of the camp, to maintain the whole facility this year.

“That was a very disheartening thing to have to tell them they won’t be working here this summer,” Glen Satchell said. “And then they even called when they saw daycamps were going to be available.

“I’ve done this for 34 years and this will be the first year this camp hasn’t been open. It’s kind of discouraging to not see some kids here having fun.”

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So far, more than 140 people have made donations with 11 states represented according to the donor board.

“I’d say the word is starting to get out,” Satchell said. “The thing that I guess I’m kind of pleased to see is all the support of people that have really loved camp. The fundraiser’s been kicked off, and it’s going well.”

The fundraiser can be found online at buckeyefunder.osu.edu/project/21031.

“4-H camp is a favorite summer activity for more than 200 Clark County youth each summer,” House said. “Life-long friendships, outdoor adventure and taking on new challenges are just a few of the positive outcomes youth gain from overnight 4-H camps. This summer the 4-H cabin doors are shut, the pool is empty and the campgrounds are quiet, both 4-H camp counselors and campers are disappointed 4-H Camp was cancelled for 2020, but they would be devastated if 4-H camps were closed forever.”

House, who is helping counselors plan a virtual camp experience for Clark County in late June, noted that she knows 4-H volunteers who met their best friend or even future spouse at camp and 4-H alumni who discovered they wanted to work with children as a career after serving as camp counselors.

“4-H Camp is about relationships,” House said. “It’s a family and it’s a childhood rite of passage that should not be a casualty to COVID-19.”

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