Since 1976, when the initial group of 235 campers arrived at the Eastern Nebraska 4-H Center to enjoy a week of summer fun, our mission has been to serve the youth of Nebraska and provide opportunities for them to Discover, Learn, and Grow. Over the past 44 years, we have been successful in supporting our mission through a variety of program options, including adult and youth retreat, outdoor education, summer overnight camp, and day camp programs.
As you know, COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the world that we once knew, including having significant impacts to our camp program. In early April, we made the very difficult decision to cancel all of our in-person programs including spring outdoor education and summer camp events. As a primarily seasonal business where most of our operating revenues are collected during the summer months to support our operations year-round, this decision had a significant impact on our budget. Thankfully, as sound fiscal managers, we had a reserve revenue fund to continue to operate through this time to continue programming virtually and salaries for five full-time employees. Unfortunately, we have come to the end of this reserve fund and discussions have turned to our next steps.
As part of the process, we explored how the Nebraska 4-H camp program can better reach youth where they are with innovative programs, utilizing research-based curricula delivered with a hands-on experimental learning model by talented youth development professionals. We are pleased to announce a NEW environmental education program series that will include both virtual and place-based programs for schools, home-school families, and afterschool programs. Of course, current and future 4-H members will always be among our key clients. As part of our goal to reach more youth, and with thoughtful consideration of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, our state 4-H team, and the Nebraska 4-H Foundation, we have made the extremely difficult decision to cease all operations at the Eastern Nebraska 4-H Center in Gretna effective August 1, 2020.
While we may not have the same site presence, one thing that remains the same is our commitment to our partnership with you to help us work toward our mission to provide opportunities for youth to Discover, Learn, and Grow and we invite you to consider continuing your partnership with Nebraska 4-H in various ways.
Although we are disappointed in the closure of the Eastern Nebraska 4-H Center, we are hopeful that our renewed commitment to broader environmental education offerings for youth will bring a new era of Nebraska 4-H Camping.