Betsy-Jeff Penn 4-H Educational Center

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Summer 2022, Cherokee County 4-H plans to be having a blast at the Betsy-Jeff Penn 4-H Educational Center and we want your youth to join us!! If you have a young person 8-14 years old that would like to join us at one of the top-rated 4-H camps in the country for some great outdoor fun, please contact Shannon Coleman, at 828-837-2210 ext. 4.

North Carolina 4-H Camps

The Betsy-Jeff Penn(BJP) 4-H Educational Center is North Carolina 4-H’s premier camping institution in the state, serving over 7,000 young people every year. Nestled on nearly 200 acres of forests, lakes, streams, and fields in the North Carolina Piedmont, the Center is proud to provide research-based educational experiences that help develop and promote the life skills necessary for youth to become productive members of society.

width="346" height="263"Located in Reidsville, NC the outdoor retreat and education facility was given to the citizens of North Carolina by Betsy Penn, who constructed and then donated the facility to North Carolina 4-H in 1964 in honor of her late husband, Jefferson Penn. BJP is owned and operated through North Carolina State University. The Center is managed by a full-time Center Director, supported by Program Directors, facility maintenance staff, food service providers, and seasonal camp and education staff to provide safe and exceptional programs. The center is accredited by The American Camping Association, ensuring BJP adheres to the highest standards for safety, operations, and program quality.

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Beginning with a ‘welcome to camp’ opening ceremony on Sunday and concluding with an awards ceremony on Friday, our six-day sleep-away summer camp program sends campers home with memories and friendships that will last a lifetime! Activities include:

  • Horseback ridingwidth="229" height="175"
  • Swimming
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Dance Night
  • S’mores
  • Archery
  • Rock wall climbing
  • Games
  • Talent show width="228" height="174"
  • High ropes (older campers)
  • Canoeing
  • Nature exploration
  • Slip n’ slide
  • Campfires
  • And much more!

Campers are placed into co-ed activity groups according to age and request. Activity groups stay together throughout the day participating in various activities together and sharing mealtimes. We provide all campers specialized equipment needed to camp out, canoe, climb, explore the beautiful ecosystem, negotiate the ropes course, and ride horseback. Traditional Campers at BJP are 8-12 years old and will enjoy all these fun activities.

 width="388" height="293"The Adventure Camp is for ages 12-14.  This special program for older campers focuses on developing outdoor living skills and includes a two-night on-site camp out on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

In addition to regular residential camping activities, Adventure campers learn fire building, orienteering, outdoor cooking, tent set-up and have the opportunity to go down the zip-line at high ropes.

During the campout, Adventure campers stay in a four-person, single-gender tent they learn to set up themselves. They prepare and cook their own campfire meals.

Trekker Camper ages are 12-14. Trekkers participate in an overnight, off-site camp-out and trip that includes rock climbing at Pilot Mountain State Park and canoeing on the Dan River, a low-class rapid river.

Prior to the trip, Trekkers learn advanced canoeing skills on Lake Hazel and climbing skills using our climbing wall and high ropes course. Trekkers leave Wednesday morning, spend the day canoeing on the Dan, and then camp out at Pilot Mountain, ready for rock-climbing on Thursday morning. Trekkers return on Thursday in time to join the camp dance that evening. Trekkers learn how to set up their own 4-person tent and cook their own meals over an open campfire. Tents are single-gender.

Trekkers spend much of their time at camp learning specialized skills in preparation for their trip so do not participate in many of the normal camp activities like horseback riding, crafts, etc.

The safety of all participants is our first priority and the center reserves the right to cancel trips in the event of inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances. The group is under the supervision of trained and experienced instructors at a ratio of 1:6. Off-site travel is provided by passenger vans.

width="278" height="212"LIT (Leader-in-Training) Program is for ages 15-17. The LIT program is designed to help older campers develop leadership skills. The program runs concurrently and is intertwined with the weekly sleep-away summer camp.

There are 6 male and 6 female spaces available during each session of camp. Assigned to a staff mentor for the week, LITs spend part of their time working on program set-up and behind-the-scenes details. They also receive specialized training and participate in team-building activities, high ropes, and other leadership opportunities.

LITs must go through an application process prior to being accepted for the program. For more information about becoming a LIT at Betsy-Jeff Penn follow the information on the page.

If your child would like to attend camp either with our camping group or separately please contact Shannon Coleman, at or call 828-837-2210 ext. 4. A $100 deposit is due upon registration for camp and payments for camp are available. If you would like to apply for a scholarship there will be some available as well. Cherokee County 4-H provides transportation to camp if your child is camping with our camping group. If you choose other camping dates or other 4-H camps other than our camping group dates and camp families are responsible for transportation.