GCAA Counselor Board Meeting Minutes
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Rock Eagle 4-H Center
Present: Marvin Jackson, Sonny Dixon, Nick Bledsoe, Amy Burch Byram, Harold Jarret, Tom
Torrance, Cheryl Varnadoe, Ina Cook Hopkins, Mike Ellis, Nan Jenkins, Harrileen Jones Conner,
Jenn Townsend, Scott Westbrook, Jenna Williams Black, Kaycie Rogers, Brandon Ashley, Laurie
Murrah, Arch Smith, Ted Jenkins, Casey Mull, Charlie Wurst
Minutes were read from the previous meeting and approved with no changes.
Treasurer’s Report –
Operating funds – The majority of expenses since February were the newsletter and end of
summer gifts. Fifteen lifetime dues were received. Regular dues paid were down 20 from 2009
(usually one or two are received a month). A total of $2985 was received as donations from
lifetime members as well as $150 sponsorship for the newsletter. The checking account is
currently strong, as it the balance is still greater than $4000.
Foundation accounts –A year ago GCAA decided to award actual scholarships to counselors
rather than paying salaries. As a result, GCAA now holds three years worth of scholarships in
reserve in the event that interest does not pay enough to cover the cost of the scholarships (it is
hoped that once the economy recovers interest monies will pay for the scholarships in the
future). We can use UGA Foundation funds for scholarships but these monies must go to a
scholarship for UGA students only. The 4-H Foundation will vote on transferring endowment
monies at the end of the fiscal year at their upcoming meeting. This past year GCAA gave three
scholarships. Two were from the JFT fund and one was from the Cecil Johnson fund.
The Treasurer’s report was accepted and approved.
Pageant night – This summer’s pageant night was a large and successful event that was both a
reunion and a celebration of Ted and Gerrye Jenkins’s anniversary. Nan said that the event was
beyond the family’s expectation and that they all had a wonderful time together. She also
commented on how important the celebration was to Ted and Gerrye. Many former counselors
returned to Rock Eagle for the first time since serving as counselors, and the celebration included
both those counselors that had served during the Jenkins era as well as individuals that had
worked before and after this time period. Everyone was impressed with the improvements
occurring around the center. Jan thanked everyone that pitched in to assist with the event, as
well as those that came out to celebrate with the family.
Ted thanked GCAA for hosting the celebration and for recognizing himself and Gerrye. He gave
his very heartfelt thanks and commented that he visited with many individuals whom had
impacted his life. It was a time to think back to good times. He also had the chance to visit with
many agents that were attending the week of camp. He was awed by the whole evening and very
appreciative. Cheryl said it was a catalyst for getting people here in the future and a building
block for future events. Jenn commented that this was a springboard for the upcoming Twilight
on the Lake event and observed that people have continued to connect after the event as well.
Charlie collected several sign-in sheets from that night and was attempting to organize the
information in order to thank everyone for coming.
Jenna said the event was used as an opportunity to raise money for Jenkins scholarship and that
a total of $995 was raised. She challenges everyone today to give money to meet the original
goal to raise $1000 over the summer. The total goal is to raise $20,000 in order to endow the
scholarship, with $10,000 as the first benchmark. Jenna stated there needs to be an ongoing
effort to raise funds until the scholarship is endowed. She is going to continue to solicit
donations in the newsletter and on Facebook.
Small Camp Baskets – For the first time, small camp counselors received welcome baskets from
GCAA. Laurie, Kaycie, Cheryl, and Jenna organized the creation of the baskets. Jenn thanked
everyone that helped and encouraged everyone to look forward to next summer. Cheryl
suggested that everyone bring something to the spring meeting to include in the baskets (so that
everyone could contribute). Ina suggested that someone make a list of the types of items that
could be included in the baskets. Last spring, Kaycie emailed Travis who emailed former
Wahsega counselors. Former Wahsega counselors donated money which Kaycie used to buy
items and create the baskets. She suggested that at the next meeting individuals bring a
Rock Eagle Sunday Meals – Jenn thanked everyone who came to Rock Eagle to cook Sunday
night dinner for the counselors. Cheryl said that her group had a lot of fun and that many people
that were not on GCAA came to help out.
End of Summer Gifts – Summer gifts were once again black and white photographs of the
different centers taken by Randy Crump. Each year counselors receive a different print and the
gift is very popular and well loved. The group discussed giving Rock Eagle plates as a gift.
Someone mentioned that Mary Lee’s gift shop in Jefferson has Rock Eagle plates that can be
personalized but Arch commented that GCAA should go through the Rock Eagle canteen.
Camp Reports – Jenn attended Rock Eagle and reported the counselors had tons of energy even
though it was hot and the last week of camp. Harold was at Master Camp and his son attended
Cloverleaf Camp at Fortson and loved it. Several others visited variety show and said the
counselors were very prepared and did great. The dance at Senior Pavilion was great as well and
there were lots of traditions still in place. Jenna visited both beach camps, and her son went to
Rock Eagle and had a ball. She said she saw several of the counselors that she interviewed for
selection and they did great. Ina visited Jekyll in April and toured the center. She said the staff
was wonderful. Others went to State Council weekend and said it felt like going back in time and
that not much has changed.
Cabin dedication – Two new cabins were dedicated along with the Gas Building.
Counselor advertisements in the newsletter – Scott organized the first inclusion of ads in the
newsletter. He said he was disappointed in the turnout. Many people committed to buying ads,
but didn’t materialize. He said would be more aggressive and blunt next time and that he already
has one from the next newsletter. Advertisements need to be received by mid-march for Kaycie
to include them in the newsletter. The price is $50 for a business card sized advertisement. All
that is needed is the business card along with the years served at camp and check to Scott. He
said he will accept advertisements from spouses and for condos for rent (and other similar
advertisements). Kaycie said a note about advertisements should be included it in the dues
letter along with the newsletter.
Counselor Selection - Saturday and Sunday January 8th and 9th are Counselor Selection. People
are needed to interview candidates. Tom Torrance and Harileen volunteered, and back-up
interviewers are Harold and Jenna.
Leadership books –Jenn needs two or three individuals to come to Rock Eagle to present books
and give perspective on being a counselor. Ina and Amy volunteered for the presentation at All
Counselor Training on Friday February 25th.
Outreach and connecting to alumni – Jenn led a discussion on how to reach out to alumni.
Charlie said that outreach needed to be predictable (such as with Gala etc.) and he says to set
aside the same weekend every summer so that people know in advance about events. Cheryl
commented that the sooner dates and details are on Facebook the better. Kaycie advised to be
careful and post on the correct page on Facebook. Brandon said that the Facebook page should
not be updated too often so that people don’t get overwhelmed with info. Scott suggested
rotating locations (so events are not always at Rock Eagle) but Kaycie observed that people got
upset when this was attempted in the past. Sonny suggested we have a speaker that people
would want to hear (such as Mark Richt) and make it a paid event. Jan said that most people
want kids’ activities so that children can attend. Harold observed that many events are too short
and there is not enough time for kids to play (for example in the pool). He suggested keeping
events open for extended periods (putt putt, swimming, crafts etc.).
Jenn discussed having a reunion during next summer’s Twilight on the Lake event, at pageant,
or whether GCAA should plan a separate weekend. Harold said that he was not able to bring
family for Thursday night event. Others said they preferred Saturday events. Kaycie commented
that last time a group reunion was held during the Twilight event counselor alumni arrived early
for Twilight and had their own activities prior to the Twilight festivities. Jenn said that about 30
people attended the alumni events, while Twilight had about 300 attend total. Arch commented
that 60-65% foundation revenue is from counselor alumni. Twilight consisted of probably 70-
80% counselor alumni. He encouraged GCAA to stay with Twilight and also have a pageant night.
Twilight is not a fundraiser, but more of a gathering and reunion. Arch said that Twilight is for
the entire 4-H program, although a lot of counselors attend.
Charlie said to focus on finding a way to get a specific pull for group and maybe Twilight would
be a way to do this. (i.e. 25th year since I’ve been a counselor). Nick said came back to an event
and said there was no one there his age and he felt out of place. He stopped coming to events for
a long time because of this. He suggested GCAA make a decade focus so that there are people
from your time attending as well. He also commented that a counselor that had just finished the
program said that they were “old” and he was turned off. Jenn said three people from each group
need to reach out to their “age” groups to have a big impact as a board. Marvin asked if there is a
list of counselors from the beginning in the 50s to now. He said he didn’t get any information for
years because he got off the mailing list. Scott said that we don’t want to exclude people from
each group if focus on decades. Jenn said that Mary Ann Parsons has the up-to-date former
counselor list. Nan commented that dues letters and newsletters are sent through the
foundation and that there are about 1500 active addresses and around 2000 members. Arch said
that didn’t start to try to really keep track of everyone until the late 90s. Now individuals can
update information online (for those with access to internet etc.) in one database. Sharon Smith
suggested highlighting two decades (but not those that are close together because there will be
overlap between similar generations). Amy asked if there was a twilight committee. Arch
replied that no, the foundation puts it on. It was decided that Danetta Hardy will be in charge of
the subcommittee that will plan the event we have.
A motion to hold a reunion event in conjunction with Twilight on the Lake on August 13th 2011
was seconded and passed. Pageant night activities will be continued and discussed at the next
Harold commented that the Master club is having a work weekend at Wahsega March 4-6th.
There is work that needs to be done but a shortage of money. He extended the invitation to
GCAA. Travis would provide lodging at no cost. Food will be paid for by volunteers. Someone
suggested Kaycie put it on Facebook. Jenn said that GCAA needed to do our part to help. Harold
suggested it could be an annual event.
4-H Report – Arch commented that the last meeting was right before the budget concerns and
the proposal to eliminate 4-H etc. However, now our program is valued statewide. There were
90 newspaper articles on March 3rd on the topic. Social networking was amazing and many
legislators asked people to stop calling. Jenn Nettles was on the floor of the House and Senate to
talk about 4-H and did a wonderful job. Nancy Grace also did a piece on her show and ran it two
times. The Dean got a call from the Chancellor to get it stopped. The overall message was quick
and powerful and even Arch did not know the extent of support for 4-H in Georgia.
The “I am Georgia 4-H” campaign has begun with stickers for cars and other initiatives. It is
hoped that stickers will be distributed all over the state. “I am Georgia 4-H” stories are included
on the website. Arch feels that the future of 4-H is hopeful.
Extension will be reorganized in the coming months, and Arch talked about closing county
offices. However there remains a common thread – we want 4-H in every county. The minimum
presence would be a program assistant in an elementary school in each county so that 4-H could
continue to operate in schools. Program assistants would be supported by other agents in other
counties. If reorganization is fully implemented, extension will be better represented and
Fundraising surpassed the previous year. Private donations are down but grant monies are up.
The Georgia Youth Summit was held in conjunction with the GA Department of Community
Affairs. Not all participants were 4-Hers. Teams consisted of one adult and four youth from each
county. Participants studies important issues and determined what they could do to make a
change in their own communities. Arch recounted his experience in Warren County as a
testament to the impact the GA Youth Summit has.
Harold Darden (age 90) will be the 10th Georgia to be inducted into the 4-H hall of fame. Georgia
has the most individuals in the Hall. Mr. Darden plans to go to DC to accept the award.
4-H Centers had their best and worst years. Tybee had its best year while Rock Eagle had its
worst. The decline of business at Rock Eagle was mostly due to a lack of large groups of adults.
Normally groups of 600-1000 rent the center, but now groups of 400 or so participants are more
common. There are 8-9 vacant positions at Rock Eagle due to a combination of retirement,
layoffs, and individuals leaving. These positions will not be filled and Rock Eagle will continue to
work without these positions. The economy is taking a toll. Smaller camps have fared better
because most of their business is from environmental education and camp. However, we are still
doing a lot of things at Rock Eagle especially in the capital budget. There are 6 or 7 projects
going on right now. The Gas Building, two cabins, and Hastings are finished. Work continues on
Sutton and a new roof on the Audit. Phase 1 of central quad with trees has been completed.
There are 2 major water line projects currently as well as sewage treatment and water filtration
projects. GA Power is being renovated and when finished will look similar to the Gas Building.
Arch also reported that we must have new dining hall at Wahsega, but they are not going to tear
down the old building.
Camp Report – Charlie reported that according to customer input and evaluations it was a good
camping season at all centers. He said there were challenges with the current economic
situation, but that agents are still supported in counties. Over 9000 individuals came to camp
including Cloverleaf, Junior, Senior, specialty (Wilderness/Marine), Military and Community
This past summer 90 counselors were employed although this number is down from previous
summers due to the economy. Many counselors took on different roles. Six positions were cut at
Rock Eagle which can be a challenge when individuals get sick or injured.
Last spring counselors jumped in action with budget cuts. They were very mature and several
Collegiate 4-Hers met with folks in Atlanta. Counselors showed that they really care about the
Counselors also worked around changes in facilities (ex. Muskogees and Hastings). Moved
Monday night skit to pageant grounds, and for the most part this change was well received.
Camp now starts and ends on pageant grounds.
Kelsey Holcomb received the JFT 1st year scholarship. Charlie said she did an excellent job and
was very positive and upbeat all summer. He also commented that this scholarship will really
help her to cover the cost of school finances. Other scholarships will be announced later.
GCA picked Regina Whitaker as honorary counselor. She will be recognized at the reunion