Minorities around West Virginia would like to question the governor as well as the commissioner of the Division of Culture and History as to why there is no longer an African American heritage arts camp held at Camp Washington Carver, located at Clifftop West Virginia, in Fayette County.
The West Virginia Division of Culture’s website shows that the last African American Heritage Camp held at the site was in 2004 and at the time was in its 18th consecutive year. No one is certain if the Division of Culture and History’s sponsorship played a role in operating the camp, or if The Mountain Cultural Arts Center’s involvement with the site is playing a factor. But the camp is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and still offers program-affiliated events throughout the summer which include private activities, music concerts, theater, family reunions, company picnics and weddings.
From 1942 to 1979, Camp Washington-Carver served as an off-campus learning center for West Virginia State College. During the years of racial segregation, hundreds of black West Virginians participated in summer 4-H camps, Boys State and Girls State, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, mining encampments, home economics encampments, church camps, private camps, and other programs at Camp Washington-Carver.
Maybe lack of camp promoters, club volunteers and youth development professionals have seemingly brought an end to the arts camp. In the past camp officials would actually have teachers nominate candidates for the African-American Heritage Arts Camp, choosing outstanding students in dance, vocal music, percussion, visual arts, drama, brass, woodwind and orchestral string instruments to attend the camp and encourage them to apply.
Camp George Washington-Carver is a place that instills a piece of West Virginia history in all youths that attend and not just minorities. State funding is something that should be provided not just towards Camp Washington Carver, but for all youths wanting to participate in a 4-H camp but can’t afford it. In Iowa, youths wanting to participate in a 4-H camp can apply for financial assistance on an individual basis by submitting financial aid applications.
Other 4-H camps are held in the state including an African American Arts and Heritage Academy summer camp held annually at West Virginia University. Ironically, the camp is now in its 18thyear. The WVU camp is sponsored by The Charleston Gazette Send a Child to Camp Fund, the Jacobson Foundation and the Robert H. Mollohan Family Charitable Foundation.