Tucked away in the backwoods of Clarendon County, near Rimini, the South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) has established a 450-acre educational site, which includes Camp Woodie.
Since 1995, Camp Woodie has been the tool of this non-profit to pass on waterfowl heritage and provide an experience of a lifetime for youth. The woods, fields and ponds are the playgrounds that allow 72 campers per week to pass through a well-planned schedule of outdoor activities.
Co-ed campers 8-11 years old and 12-16 years old make up the two levels that attend the nine weekly summer camps. Activities are geared for each level.
From their arrival on Sunday afternoon until departure Thursday evening, campers are busy learning the many outdoor specialties presented them. Fishing, boating, swimming, skeet shooting, archery and riflery are a few of the events that make up the week.
Guest experts, together with experienced counselors, insure campers learn in a safe setting every step of the way. There are no cell phones, iPods, mp3 players or the like allowed during camp. Small bank accounts are established at registration and funds are used throughout the week for canteen. Campers close out their accounts during check-out on Thursday.
For many, camp is their first time to handle a bow, shotgun, rifle or pistol. Campers are lead step-by -step through the Hunters Education Course and those eligible receive that certification from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
Camp Director Ed Paul is the leader of a seasoned group of counselors that make up the staff. Unique names such as Pintails, Redheads and Teals are given to the groups upon arrival along with the name of the group counselor. Counselors stay with the campers throughout the week.
When asked about the Week Seven grouping, Paul said. “We have four local campers, six from out-of-state and the rest from all over S.C.” He added, “although mom and dad leave the campers here on Sunday, we post daily pictures on our Facebook page that keeps them in touch with what their child is doing.”
“Many of our campers are returnees from prior camps,” Paul said.
This provides a seasoning among the campers, he noted. He was also joyful about a staff that returns year after year.
Jodie Watson, dropped off her two boys, and explained “I came here for an adult meeting, learned about the camp, and here we are.”
Counselor, Grace Wielicki, when asked about her Camp Woodie experience simply said, “I grew up here.” Grace’s father, David, was the founder of the SCWA in 1986 and he still serves as the executive director. He was obvious in his role as he interacted with parents during arrival time.
Camp Woodie is only the summer part of the activities at the SCWA Wildlife Education Center. Year-round activities, meetings, school year programs (Camp Leopold) abound.
Check out all the facets of this outdoor experience by Googling Camp Woodie or logging onto www.wildlifeedcenter.org.