Like many other businesses and nonprofits, Camp Virgil Tate is fishing for creative ways to solve funding problems caused by the economic impact of coronavirus.
One way designed to do so is an upcoming fishing tournament, a fundraiser that is scheduled at Camp Virgil Tate’s pond on Saturday, Oct. 3, beginning at 3 p.m. All social distancing guidelines will be followed during the event, which is open to adults and children, and a prize will be given to the winner after the tournament.
According to Camp Virgil Tate Executive Director Jason Young, the camp has lost close to 70% of their annual revenue due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Young explained that the camp, located between Sissonville and Cross Lanes, is responsible for raising approximately 75% of its yearly operating budget. Private bookings, such as weddings, family reunions, and other social gatherings, make up the majority of this funding and provide the camp with revenue to support youth-related events such as summer camps.
However, none of those events has been possible due to the pandemic, he said.
“We reopened the facility after the stay-at-home order was lifted, but a lot of people just didn’t feel safe,” Young said.
Those who did feel safe gathering were turned away by the limited numbers for gatherings.
“We can only safely accommodate so many guests at our venue. It’s unfortunate, but we understand that having a wedding or family reunion with less than 25 attendees just isn’t feasible for most people,” Young said.
In addition to the loss of funding, the camp’s youth outreach has taken a major hit, according to AmeriCorps VISTA member Emily McCormick, who serves at the camp.
“In a typical year, we would have reached about 1,400 youth through events like outdoor classrooms, 4-H camps, and other school-related events. This year, we’ve reached zero,” McCormick said.
Despite this, the staff and volunteers are trying to stay positive and looking for different ways to support the longtime camp. They have added an online store to their website, with T-shirts, hats, and other items available for purchase. Along with the upcoming fishing tournament, they have plans and are brainstorming ideas for future fundraisers.
“We know there will be a huge need when all of this is over. We’re just trying to come up with ways to fund raise safely now, that way we can continue to provide for youth and our community when it’s safe to gather again,” McCormick said.
For more information about Camp Virgil Tate or to shop its online store, visit www.campvirgiltate.org.
Guidelines and rules for the fishing tournament, posted on the Camp Virgil Tate Facebook page, include:
• The tournament fee of $20 per angler ($10 entry, $10 for the prize pot) is due on the day of the tournament.
• Anglers are welcome to come fish before 3 p.m. on Oct. 3, but weights will not be recorded until then.
• No fishing license is required.
• Catch and Release only.
• The winner will be awarded the sum of the prize pot and need not be present to win.
• Participants are expected to follow all social distancing guidelines.
• Participation will be limited to ensure social distancing. Registered participants will be given priority.
• Concessions and bait will be available.
• The angler’s choice of up to four fish may be weighed.
• The heaviest cumulative weight wins.
• Official weights must be taken by a Camp Virgil Tate volunteer.
• No substitutions can be made once all four fish have been selected and weighed.
• Only one pole in water at a time will be allowed per angler. No additional poles will be permitted.
For further details on the fishing tournament rules or to register for the event, visit “campvirgiltate” on Facebook or call the camp office at 304-984-3311.
The camp was created when Virgil C. Tate donated 57 acres of property to the Kanawha County 4-H Foundation to establish a new 4-H camp for Kanawha County youth in 1954.
Today, Camp Virgil Tate includes nearly 600 acres of property approximately a half-hour’s drive from downtown Charleston. Over the decades, the camp has provided group rentals and a year-round venue for meetings, retreats, and camps. Its facilities include four cottages, a lodge with 24 rooms, two conference rooms and a dining hall. Along with the fishing pond where the tournament will take place, outdoor facilities at the camp include four barns and two show rings for horse camps and equestrian competition events, hiking and nature trails, basketball and volleyball courts, and a softball field.