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GaFFACamp@GaAgEd.org   |  (770) 786-6926  |  720 FFA FHA Camp Rd. Covington, GA 30014
 
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History of the Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center      
1929: From the time that the first FFA chapters in Georgia joined together in 1929 to form a state association, vocational agriculture leaders envisioned a camp where rural boys could gather during the summers for wholesome recreation. Their hopes began to materialize in 1937.

1937: A hillside site overlooking the headwaters of Lake Jackson in Newton County was chosen, and in August 1937, a 150-acre tract with approximately one and one-half miles of lake shoreline was purchased from Mr. S.C. Candler of Madison, Georgia, for $1000.00. Because the FFA treasury contained only this amount, Mr. Candler agreed to retain four acres of the tract and grant a ten-year option for the Georgia FFA Association to buy this property.

In that same year, the vocational agriculture teachers in their annual conference voted to accept a proposal whereby funds for the development of the property would be raised through chapter pledges. Each chapter pledged three dollars per member, and over a period of years, some $45,000 was raised in this fashion.

When the property was purchased, it was inaccessible by automobile. The Newton County commissioners agreed to grade a road to the proposed campsite.

Officials of the National Youth Administration (NYA) accompanied FFA leaders on a visit to the site and arrangements were made for a cooperative project to improve the property and erect buildings. Work actually began in October 1937 with a group of NYA students being transported to and from the site daily. When the first buildings were completed, NYA students took up residence at the camp.

1938: Granite was discovered on the property and stone was quarried for use in the erection of several of the main buildings. Students were asked to find rocks out of Lake Jackson. These rocks were then used to construct the dining hall fireplace. Some fifty years later, these same students revisited the camp and pointed out the rock that they had found. Some timber on the site was cut and milled. Additional materials were purchased as money trickled in from the FFA chapter pledges. In 1938, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the camp. She saw a need for an infirmary and provided funds for this building.

Because the NYA could only provide labor, the need for materials to keep construction underway steadily grew. It began to look as though the project might have to be discontinued, or at best delayed, pending the accumulation of more funds from FFA chapters. In light of this situation, Dr. M. D. Mobley, then State Director of Vocational Education and State Advisor of FFA, went to Governor E.D. Rivers and to the State Board of Education seeking financial help. He was authorized to spend up to $35,000 from the annual budget for vocational education to purchase supplies essential to keeping the building program going.

1941-1942: During the administration of Governor Eugene Talmadge (1941-42), convict labor was used to grade an improved road into the camp and clear the area for a three-acre swimming lake. Equipment to do the grading was furnished by the State Highway Department. However, all the fuel used for the trucks and tractors and all of pipe and cement for culverts was paid for out of FFA funds. The convict labor was used for approximately thirty days. In the administration of Governor Ellis Arnall, the highway department surfaced the camp road.

1943: Initial construction was completed in 1943. The camp now had an Infirmary, a dining hall, assembly halls, and ten cottages. Completion of the buildings presented another problem, because they now had to be furnished. Using FFA funds, lumber was purchased, and NYA students made the oak tables that are still being used in the Dining Hall. Chairs were also bought with FFA money. This resulted in a dining hall with seating for up to 300 persons.

To furnish the auditorium in the assembly hall, delegates at the State Future Farmers of America Convention voted that each chapter would buy two cushion-bottomed folding chairs. The chairs cost $11 each, and more than 500 were bought at a cost exceeding $6,000. This money was raised by chapters as a supplement to their original pledges. A gift of $1,200 was received from the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Fund. These funds were used to buy a curtain and scenic background painting to furnish the stage in Mobley Hall.

Following World War II, delegates to the annual FFA Convention voted to erect a memorial to former members and advisors who were killed in the defense of their country. They decided the memorial should take the form of an amphitheater at the camp. For this project, they raised funds in excess of $8,000.

Funds accumulated in the operation of the camp were used to take the option on the four-acre tract which Mr. Candler had retained when the property was originally purchased in 1937. Later, Mr. Samp Aiken offered a 212-acre farm adjoining the camp for sale. It was considered necessary to purchase this in order to control the watershed for the swimming lake. The purchase of this land brought the camp property to approximately 373 acres.

1947: During the years following World War II when beef was in short supply and prices were high, the additional camp lands were used to produce grain and pasture for producing cattle to slaughter for use at the camp. In 1947, an education project for visitors and campers was begun by purchase of four registered Hereford cows with calves at their side and one bred heifer. A bull from the Mill Iron Ranch in Texas was obtained through the Sears, Roebuck Foundation. All of the beef used during the summer camping seasons was produced and slaughtered on the farm. Except for the replacement of herd bulls, no additional purebred cattle have been introduced to the herd.

1945-1953: In 1945, the Georgia Future Homemakers of America Organization was formed. Two years later, the FHA members were invited to a "test" week of joint camping with the FFA. The joint camping program proved so successful that in 1953, the delegates at the State FFA Convention voted to make this a permanent arrangement.

1956: In 1956, upon the approval of the staff and teachers of vocational agriculture, the official name of the camp was changed to the State FFA-FHA Camp. In 1959, the Future Homemakers chose as their state project the development of a Reading and Library Room in Mobley Hall. In September 1960, the members selected as a state project to provide curtains for all of the girls' cottages, the Guest Cottage, and the living rooms of the boys' cottages.

By August 1961, Future Homemakers had raised $42,030.00 for the improvement of the camp. The first $25,000 contributed by FHA members was matched by Governor Herman Talmadge. (He also matched $10,000.00 raised by FFA members.) This grant enabled FHAers to build, furnish, and landscape the Homemakers Cottage and Girls' Cottage One and Two. After the completion of the Homemakers Cottage and Cottages One and Two, Future Homemakers selected as their state project for three years the improvement of other facilities at the camp. These improvements included water coolers for boys' and girls' cottages, the Guest Cottage, a complete change of shower curtains for the entire camp, and the purchase of some mattresses between 1957 and 1958.

Even with their untiring efforts in raising money for camp improvements, the Future Farmers and Future Homemakers associations realized they would need outside help. In 1956, friends of the two organizations viewed the camp facilities and found them inadequate to accommodate the number of boys and girls wishing to attend camp each summer. Therefore, a committee made up of lay people was formed and named the FFA-FHA Camp Development Committee. These men and women worked with other people throughout the state in a drive to raise funds to build new and better facilities at the camp. They set their goal for $100,000.00, which they not only met but surpassed. The total amount of money expended in the camp improvement program exceeded $300,000.00. A state grant awarded by Governor Marvin Griffin accounted for $118,000.00 of this expenditure.

Over the years, a number of well-known firms throughout Georgia have contributed $10,000 or more for the construction of a cottage. These cottages in turn were named for the company donating the money. For example, Pebble Hill cottage was built from funds donated by Mrs. Parker B. Poe of the Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia. Other firms donating money were the Southeast Ford Tractor Company, the Union Bag-Camp Paper Corporation, the Georgia Bankers Association, and the Georgia Rural Electric Membership Association. During these years, improvements of the camp facilities include the construction of nine more cottages, and the remodeling of all old cottages and other buildings. The Infirmary has been renovated to handle more patients more efficiently. The baseball diamond has been regraded; security lights have been placed throughout the camp, and additional sewage lines have been installed. A patio outside Mobley Hall was constructed, and a small kitchen and dining area was built in the basement of the large dining hall so that smaller groups could be served without using the larger area.

1960: A small conference type building was constructed in 1960.The Georgia Power Company donated $25,000 of the $50,000 that was used to construct this facility. This building houses a semi-circular auditorium with raised tiers of seats for 158 people. It has a thrust stage and a complete electric kitchen. The auditorium has an electric heat pump for year-round air conditioning and heating. Adjoining the auditorium is a laboratory area.

During the years of the Camp Development Committee, the state provided $118,000 to aid in developing the camp. This money was used to build other cottages that have been dedicated to outstanding Georgians who have help enhance vocational education. Bowdoin-Randolph cabin was named in honor of the first Georgia FFA and FHA presidents. The George-Deen and Smith Hughes cabins were named for the four U.S. Congressmen and Senators that co-authored acts establishing and expanding vocational education.

Utilizing camp development money, a home for the camp director and his family was built on the property. Lumber for the house came from the camp forestry area. Next door to the director's home is another house reserved for the assistant director.

1970s: In the 70's, the FFA and FHA chapters wanted a pool instead of the swimming pond. The chapters sold candy to raise funds to construct an olympic size pool.

1980s: In the 80's, the dining hall was expanded. The kitchen was renovated and enlarged, additional restrooms were added, and a smaller dining room was added adjacent to the main dining room. The downstairs portion of the dining hall was converted into meeting room space, including the Newton County conference room. The Brown Center, also below the dining hall, houses the displays of the History of The Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center, The Georgia FFA Association, and The Georgia FHA Association. The old shop was converted into a conference center, now known as Walters Hall. Girls' Cabins One and Two, and the Infirmary were converted into semi-private lodging facilities.

1994:
In 1994, the educational program was expanded with the construction of an arboretum. This facility has an educational pavilion and restrooms. It is located on the camp road near the cattle pastures.

1995: In 1995, the camp had the opportunity to purchase 46 acres of adjoining lake front property. Because of the rapid development of Lake Jackson and the closeness of this land to the facility, it was necessary for the camp to obtain this land. Timber from the camp was sold to provide the funds for this property purchase.

1996: Olympic CabinWhen the Olympics came to Atlanta in 1996, a German delegation of over 3200 campers used the facility for the majority of the summer. The accumulation of funds from this project allowed the camp to expand with the addition of new cabins and buildings. This brought the camp lodging capacity to over 800. The camp was also able to purchase 95 acres of land adjoining the pastures and Highway 36. This purchase brought the total camp property to approximately 500 acres.

In 1996, Camp Director Melvin Johnson became the State Director of Agricultural Education. Todd Teasley was chosen as the new Camp Director.

2001: Over the years, the camp evolved into a year round educational conference center. The Camp Administrative Committee decided to change the name of the facility to the Georgia FFA-FHA Center in March 1997. On May 14, 2001, the Camp Administrative Committee voted to change the name to the Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center to reflect the name change of the FHA organization to FCCLA (Family Career and Community Leaders of America).

2002: In 2002, the Oconee FFA Chapter built the Leadership Course on the softball field. The course is used for low-ropes teambuilding programs and as an obstacle course. The course was a great addition to the FFA and FCCLA programs, and is also used to teach leadership to other organizations that utilize the Center. The course led to the development of the B.A.S.I.C. (Building and Achieving Success in Chapters) Training Program in 2005, a field trip opportunity for student organizations. In 2007 the course was expanded to include a High Ropes Course, constructed with funds from General Mills, Georgia Cooperative Council, Snapping Shoals EMC, and Georgia Agricultural Education.

2003: Two cabins were completed and dedicated in 2003. Pulliam Cottage, the replacement of Gray Cottage, contains 14 semi-private rooms, office space, and a conference room. McAllister Cabin was rededicated after a complete renovation, changing it from a deteriorating bunk cabin to a three room semi-private cabin. Both buildings were constructed by the Department of Corrections. Pulliam Cottage was built with the financial assistance of the H.M. Pulliam Family and many donors who purchased a room for $1,000 each.

Also in 2003, the Center began the FFA Wildlife Camp Program, a hands-on outdoor education summer camp open to the public.

2004: In 2004, the Center opened the renovated archives in the Brown Center. The renovated archives included history of the FFA, FCCLA, and the Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center. In 2006, Sheffer Hall received a much needed facelift, including a new roof, new dining hall floor, and renovated conference rooms.

2008: In 2008, a new sewage treatment system was completed along with replacement lines on much of the camp. The old sand filter system that was located near Jackson Lake was replaced with a modern system with drain fields behind the horse barn. Funds were provided by the State of Georgia for this project.

2009: In 2009 a new bunk cabin was completed on the site where Cabin B3 once stood. The new cabin was constructed using funds from the State of Georgia and through room sponsors who donated funds for individual room naming rights. The cabin was named and dedicated in honor of Mr. Melvin Johnson. Also in 2009 the renovated board room next to the kitchen was dedicated in honor of David Skinner.

2010: In 2010 the second new bunk cabin was completed and dedicated in honor of Tommy Irvin and the Georgia Development Authority. These new cabins were constructed to replace some of the old wooden cabins that could not be sufficiently renovated.

2011: In 2011 the Mud Obstacle Course was constructed near the old swimming pond. The course was used for Summer Leadership Camp and other programs and groups. That same year the Blob and Water Zip Line were added at the old swimming pond.

2012: In 2012 Georgia EMC donated funds to renovate the REA Cabin. The cabin was renovated to be handicap accessible with new furnishings and a completely new bathroom. The cabin was renamed the Georgia EMC Cabin and was dedicated in May of 2013.

2013: In 2013 the camp held the first annual Udder Mud Run as a fundraiser event. Over 400 runners and 130 volunteers participated in the successful event. 

Also, the camp received state bond funds to replace the roofs on most buildings on site.

Today: The facility is open year round serving nearly 30,000 campers and preparing approximately 140,000 meals annually. All of the funds generated through the Center's daily operations are put back into the facility for improvements.

As part of a long-range development plan, the Center has obtained plans for a 1600 seat auditorium, a new dining hall, educational building, and additional semi-private lodging.

For more information on the Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center please contact us!

   
   
 
 
 
     
 

720 FFA FHA Camp Rd.
Covington, GA 30014
Office: 770-786-6926
Fax: 770-786-1774
Email: GaFFACamp@GaAgEd.org

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