After damages and disaster, Camp Grant Walker finds new ways to reach 4-H’ers

Christine Bergeron, O'Malley, Adam

Cabin 19JPG Dance PavilionJPG

The Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center has been a staple in the Louisiana 4-H community for almost a century. Nestled in the pine forests of the Kisatchie National Forest in Grant Parish, Camp Grant Walker hosts educational programs, corporate meetings and youth events along with 10 weeks of summer camp serving all 64 parishes of Louisiana. The center also provides facilities, lodging and management for various meetings, and camps throughout the fall and spring seasons.

On Aug. 27, 2020, Grant Walker suffered significant damage from Hurricane Laura. The destruction was primarily from uprooted pine trees that damaged a bunkhouse, two log cabins, and several other buildings and facilities around the camp. Two of those buildings, the beloved Dance Pavilion, where nightly dances are held during summer camp, and the Arts and Crafts Building, are original structures that were built on the grounds as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1939.

Although Camp Grant Walker pivoted to a virtual 4-H Summer Camp in 2020, six weeks later the camp suffered another major setback because of severe flooding during Hurricane Delta. Unfortunately, while navigating through the lengthy rebuilding process resulting from these two major hurricanes, Camp Grant Walker was not able to reopen for 4-H Summer Camp 2021.

To continue our mission of providing high-quality outdoor programming to the 4-H youth of Louisiana who were looking forward to spending the summer at camp, the 4-H staff decided to take camp on the road. The state 4-H program’s first “traveling summer camp,” the 2021 Louisiana 4-H Traveling Road Show Day Camp Program, served 31 parishes and nearly 800 youth and traveled over 3,000 miles.

The 2021 Louisiana 4-H Traveling Road Show was a huge success. One parent said, “It was amazing! I was so excited that my child stayed and felt safe and reassured. My son struggles with new things, and he made it through both day camps! This, in my book, was a huge win!”

Another parent added: “My son has been asking to go to 4-H camp for a few years, but he has really bad asthma and allergies, so I was never comfortable enough to let him go for a week alone. This was perfect for him!”

As 4-H Summer Camp is completely at capacity, serving over 4,000 youth each summer, the 4-H Youth Development Program is looking forward to exploring this great program alternative in future years as a way to reach additional youth.

3/31/2022 9:33:27 PM
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