Learning Center a Milestone at Millstone

— Written By and last updated by Leeann Crump

Camp Millstone is considered a treasure by many people around the state who have spent youthful summers there as a camper or counselor. The 4-H camp located in Ellerbe on 320 acres, is a favorite of the three camps operated by North Carolina 4-H through the North Carolina Extension Service at N.C. State University.

The camp is equipped with 14 cabins, a dining hall, recreation hall and a large horse facility. The beautiful lake offers the campers opportunities to swim, fish and paddle and is fed by the clear waters of Millstone Creek. The N.C. 4-H History Museum is located there, as well as everything a camper could want for recreational activities including a refurbished pool, archery, a shooting range, ropes challenge courses and more.

Due to the generosity of the Cole Foundation and State Employees Credit Union, the facilities will soon be greatly upgraded with the addition of the SECU 4-H Learning Center. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on a chilly day in February 2015 to celebrate the donations of $750,000 by SECU and $250,000 by the Cole Foundation. Many individuals have also given donations toward this dream of an educational center over the years.

The center will be a state-of-the-art educational facility that will provide a place for 4-H programs to expand to year-round activity, and will be available for rental to our community for group events and retreats as well. The 3,500 square-foot building will house a large, technically equipped classroom, a conference room and will have space for 4-H artifacts and historical items.

According to center Director Keith Russell, the projected completion date for the Learning Center is January 2016 with construction well on the way. A grand opening is planned for April 2016 with a ribbon-cutting and celebration.

Camp Millstone is also contributing to economic development in Richmond County by employing more than 24 staff members each year and creating a tourism venue with many visitors coming to stay at the camp. Under Mr. Russell’s leadership, camp attendance in 2015 increased 35 percent over last year.

In addition, three subcontractors from Richmond County were selected to provide electrical, plumbing and flooring services for the new building. JT Yates Electrical, Scholl Mechanical and Rex’s Floor Covering will combine to earn 24 percent of the total building revenue; a total of $229,630 between the three local companies.

Richmond County residents can get involved in this wonderful new facility in a number of ways. First, consider renting the camp for a church, business or family retreat. When 4-H campers are not using the facility, Mr. Russell is keeping the camp busy and in the black financially by hosting many different groups.

Donations are always needed to help support the N.C. 4-H Youth Development Program, which includes camp and other programs. Tax-deductible charitable donations may be made by calling 919-515-7827 for instructions and more information. Richmond County 4-H also provides scholarships to 4-H camp to our local youth and raises money each year for this purpose.

Finally, plans are under way to have a landscaping project for the new building and interested volunteers are needed to help get the center grounds ready for the grand opening this spring. Call Susan Kelly at 910-997-8255 if you are interested in helping with a landscape work day or provide plant material.

Susan Kelly is director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Richmond County Center.