ELLOREE – “Camp Daniels lives again.”

Those were the words of South Carolina State University President James E. Clark during Tuesday’s re-opening ceremony for Camp Harry E. Daniels.

Located in Elloree, Camp Daniels opened in 1949 as the permanent site for the state’s Black 4-H youth program. The 267-acre property was shut down in 1994 due to water problems.

Now, exactly 72 years later, the campsite has re-opened with a new, 15,000-square-foot center, the 1890 Research and Extension Center, and plans for expansion.

“As your eyes survey this land, and as you look around, I’d like for you to think about and imagine the many generations of minority youth right here learning and building memories. Think about the countless hours that they spent right here enjoying Camp Daniels, and the lifelong fellowships and bonds that they formed here together, right here on these grounds,” Clark said.

“Now I ask you to turn your thoughts to the more near future when Camp Daniels again will serve as a space and a place for young people and adults alike to soak up the natural resources that you see around us, the beautiful natural resources you see around us,” Clark said.

S.C. State commencement speaker Charlamagne Tha God relates the story of Denmark Vesey to the 2020 and 2021 graduates.

S.C. State board Chairman Rodney Jenkins said the leadership center, “represents more than stone and mortar.

“Rather, for the students who will one day walk the halls of the building, the South Carolina State 1890 Leadership Center will cement a foundation upon which they can build a better life for themselves, for their families and for their communities.”

The center features a leadership training room, multipurpose meeting space, research laboratory, art studio, food demonstration lab, computer room and offices.

“Likewise, the center will be the ideal space for business and industry, government agencies, non-profits, faith-based groups and other organizations. Here they can assemble for training that will help leaders and companies grow, and achieve the success that awaits them,” Jenkins said.

Future expansion plans include 35 new facilities and recreation activity sites, including an amphitheater, community group event shelters, youth cabins, an Olympic-size pool and youth cabins.

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The site will house programs such as small farm, agricultural and natural resources, adult and community leadership, family life and nutrition, 4-H and youth development and community education.

“As a land grant institution, South Carolina State has a responsibility to advance agriculture through education, outreach and research. And Camp Daniels will help us fulfill that mission. We will be able to educate here, we will be able to reach out to our communities from here and we will be able to do some research right here on this site,” Clark said.

Many of those in attendance were former campers at Camp Daniels.

Dr. Louis Whitesides, vice president and executive director of 1890 Programs, was among the former 4-H club members who attended Camp Daniels.

“This is really a big deal, more than you actually know,” Whitesides said.

Whitesides said people have been asking him about Camp Daniels over the last few years.

“If you think about the countless lives that the old facilities on these grounds have actually touched, it’s just immeasurable,” Whitesides said.

He noted that 3,500 people gathered at the site for the original opening in 1949, saying the campsite was a safe space for minorities and the less fortunate.

“We want to bring that back. We want to make sure all of our kids have a safe space for one, a place that they can put all their problems down, and come out here and just be a kid, enjoy the grounds, enjoy the camp and take something away,” Whitesides said.

Harry Daniels, who the camp is named for, served as the state supervisor of the Negro Agricultural Extension Work for S.C. State, known then as South Carolina State College.

Harry Ott Jr., president of the South Carolina Farm Bureau and chairman of the Palmetto Agribusiness Council, noted the importance of agribusiness.

The S.C. Farm Bureau and the Palmetto Agribusiness Council each donated $1,500 to the institution.

The university also named the conference room in honor of Clark.

Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-596-6530.

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