(Elloree SC) – “Camp Daniels lives again.”
Those words were offered Tuesday by South Carolina State University President James E. Clark as the university’s1890 Research & Extension arm officially opened the first of new facilities at the formerly dormant Camp Harry E. Daniels.
The 1890 Leadership Center is a 15,000-square-foot structure containing a leadership training room, multipurpose meeting space, a research laboratory, an art studio, a food demonstration lab, classrooms, a computer room, and offices.
SC State Board of Trustees Chairman Rodney Jenkins told the capacity crowd the center will serve students and their families, as well as businesses, industries, government agencies, nonprofits, faith-based groups and other organizations.
“Here they can assemble for training that will help leaders and companies grow to achieve the success that awaits them,” Jenkins said.
The ribbon cutting festivities were conducted on the 72nd anniversary of the camp’s opening. On June 8, 1949, the camp was dedicated as a permanent site for South Carolina’s Black 4-H members and other underserved youth. The 267-acre camp is named for Harry E. Daniels, who served more than 25 years as state supervisor of Negro Agricultural Extension Work for then-South Carolina State College.
From its inception to its closing in 1994, Camp Daniels provided unforgettable educational and recreational experiences for limited resource and underserved youth of South Carolina. The center’s walls are adorned with images – courtesy of Clemson University Special Collections and Archives – showing the agricultural and recreational activities young people participated in at the camp.
Clark described the 1890 Leadership Center’s opening and the camp’s new life as a critical juncture in SC State’s commitment to youth and agriculture in South Carolina.
“As your eyes survey this land this evening – as you look around – I’d like you to think about — imagine — the many generations of minority youth who spent time right here learning and building memories,” Clark said. “Think about the countless hours that they spent right here enjoying Camp Daniels and the lifelong fellowships and bonds that they formed here together right here on these grounds many, many years ago.
“Some of you in the room were actually here doing that, and there are pictures to prove it.”
He then asked those in attendance to turn their thoughts to the near future “when Camp Daniels will again serve as a space for young people and adults alike to soak up the natural resources that you see around us.”
Clark issued thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the SC State 1890 Research & Extension team for bringing the Leadership Center to fruition. Likewise, the 1890 team honored Clark’s commitment to the camp’s redevelopment by naming the center’s conference room in his honor.
Among the youths who learned at Camp Daniels was Dr. Louis Whitesides, vice president and executive director of SC State 1890 Research & Extension. He enthusiastically shared memories of his days at the camp and issued a challenge for support for the camp’s ongoing development.
“I want to exude the passion that I have for this sacred ground and all the thousands of kids that passed through here that I talk to all the time and (they) say, ‘Man Whitesides, what you are going to do with Camp Daniels, what you are going to with Camp Daniels.’ That’s all I’ve been hearing over the last few years.
“All I could say is, ‘It’s coming … and when comes, I’m going to need your support.”
So, by no means is the development of Camp Daniels finished. Expansion plans include more than 35 new facilities and recreation activity sites, including a ropes course, an Olympic-size pool, a demonstration barn, spacious youth cabins, an amphitheater, event shelters, a lodge and a limnology research center.
“We have an ambitious yet sound vision for what this camp can become with additional first-rate facilities and amenities,” Clark said. “With your continued support, we will strengthen Camp Daniels into the active center of education that it was in the past and then some more on top of all of that.”
Dr. Lamin Drammeh, SC State 1890 Research & Extension’s director of strategic initiatives, evaluation and engagement, issued a plea for support of the camp’s educational enterprises and announced two $1,500 donations to the fund – one from the Palmetto Agribusiness Council and another from South Carolina Farm Bureau.
Harry Ott Jr., PAC chair and South Carolina Farm Bureau president and a state 4-H Board member, helped mark the Leadership Center’s opening.
“It is about support and relationships,” Ott said. “It’s all about opportunities for our young people to be exposed to agribusiness.
“And when I say agribusiness, I’m not just talking about a farmer. I’m talking about an engineer that’s designing precision agricultural equipment. I’m talking about doctors who are developing new seed varieties to feed the world,” he said. “The opportunities in the agribusiness arena today are unlimited.”