CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A "Save the Pool with Santa" event will be held Dec. 1 to help raise money to rebuild the pool, which was one of the first things built when the 4-H camp was established in 1957.
The pool has been closed since 2008 because of a major leak in the circulation system, and without it, the camp experience just isn't the same, said John Porter, a West Virginia University extension agent who heads agriculture and natural resources in Kanawha County.
"A lot of our regular campers miss the pool," he said. "Our camp is great because kids are making memories in an inclusive environment where they're not afraid to try something new. Our 4-Hers are amazing kids, and they deserve the best," he said. "Not only is it crucial for kids to have a place to cool off in the hot summer months, but it's fun."
The lack of a pool is also hurting the 400-acre campsite financially. Camp registration numbers and group events have dropped since the pool went out of business, according to Porter.
"It's not just about providing the kids with something fun, it's about bringing in revenue from other groups who want to utilize our facilities. We've seen a decrease in that since there is no pool for events," Porter said.
The fundraiser is just one piece of an effort that also includes seeking assistance from the Kanawha County Commission and other avenues of support.
In March, WVU Extension Agent Kerri Wade said the pool house, piping and most of the equipment at the pool is salvageable. But the concrete pool itself is crumbling. Wade has proposed replacing the old concrete with a brand new concrete pool and installing a state-of-the-art saltwater filtration system to keep the pool clean.
Camp officials have been trying to repair the pool since 2008, but have been unable to figure out how to come up with the estimated $300,000 needed to fix it. Wade said in March that the WVU Extension Service - a major user of the facility -- decided to step in to try to help.
The holiday fundraiser next weekend will include a craft and gift bazaar, breakfast and photo sessions with Santa, a farm animal exhibit, a bake sale and raffles offering gas cards and other items.
A "re-gift" silent auction also will be held, and the Extension Office is accepting donations of new and slightly used items to raffle off.
The event will be held at Camp Virgil Tate from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information, contact the WVU Extension Office at 304-720-9573.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.