A pioneering camp for rural youth began in Randolph County on July 29, 1915. Activities included hiking, fishing, swimming, and games.
The camp was sponsored by West Virginia University’s Extension Service, which had been created just a year earlier, and was led by J. Versus Shipman, his wife, Bess, and William “Teepi” Kendrick.
The camp was part of a national rural education movement that would evolve into 4-H in 1918. The four H’s stand for head, heart, hands, and health. Although the Randolph County camp was the first of its kind, other clubs for rural boys and girls were already in existence, including one established in Monroe County in 1908.
One of the leaders of the Randolph County camp, “Teepi” Kendrick, deserves much of the credit for the growth of 4-H in West Virginia. Not only did Kendrick expand the program to include youth development, he directed the first state 4-H camp in the United States—held at Jackson’s Mill in Lewis County in 1921.
Over the years, the mission of 4-H has broadened to provide a variety of educational programs, including assistance for urban and underprivileged youth.