Todd Davis knows a lot about the history of Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum. He should —after all, he’s been its director for 15 years, and before that he grew up there during the 28 years his dad (John) was the director.
“Dad farmed part-time, and during his tenure the camp evolved from a summer-only to a year-around program,” said Davis, who earned his degree in ag education from Ohio State University. “When Dad retired and the board decided to go to a full-time director, I jumped at the opportunity to come back to the camp and the hills of Carroll County. I just love it here.”
Davis stated that Camp Muskingum, which is nestled on beautiful Leesville Lake in northeast Ohio, was originally built during the Great Depression by FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps to teach young men vocational skills like welding, carpentry, or plumbing. The camp was later purchased by the Ohio FFA, and since then facilities and programming have both advanced steadily. It now annually serves 10,000 to 12,000 campers from FFA, 4H, and other groups, who participate in a multitude of educational activities throughout the year.
“It’s an older facility, but we’ve worked hard to take care of it and improve it over the years,” said Davis.
While most of the original dorms have been upgraded into attractive, functional, modern units, one thing hasn’t changed. Dorm Number 2 doesn’t have any restrooms of its own, but instead relies on a 1940-style latrine, which is a separate facility. Campers have to walk about 100 yards outside to shower or use the restroom.
“Compared to our other dorms, it’s a sad situation for the kids stuck in Dorm Number 2,” he said.
But Davis, who maintains a 50-cow beef herd of his own and is a Farm Credit Services customer, knew of FCS’s stewardship program and discussed the camp’s situation with his financial services officer, Myron Smith, of the Alliance, Ohio office.
“I’m very aware of Muskingum because I attended 4H camp there as a kid,” said Smith. “I know how it touches the lives of young people from all over the state.”
Soon afterward, the camp applied for and received a $20,000 grant from Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, with half coming from the lending cooperative’s corporate stewardship program, and the other half coming from Farm Credit’s Ohio regions. This in turn triggered larger low-interest loans and grants from USDA’s Rural Development program with which to finish funding the project.
“When the new, handicapped-accessible restrooms are completed, it will make a huge difference for our campers,” said Davis. “It will be great for existing groups, but it will also create opportunities to sell the camp to some new groups, and will make it possible to do more winter camping. We really appreciate Farm Credit’s love of young people and their willingness to help us out.”
FCS’s Smith was likewise glad to be a part of helping the camp of his youth. “Farm Credit is always looking for ways to benefit the farming community,” he said. “What better way to do that than through this camp and the youth who visit each year. Besides, that camp is a gem—it’s just beautiful down there.”