Travel: Weekend getaway to Millstone 4-H Camp

Adventure included archery, canoeing, fishing, and, of course, Ga Ga Ball

By Kevin Spradlin
PiedmontPostNC.com

* Millstone 4-H Camp website
* Millstone 4-H Camp Facebook page

ELLERBE — Nestled under the tall pines over 320 acres, including an 18-acre lake, my 8-year-old son and I traveled from the Piedmont to the Sandhills to spend an extended weekend enjoying a wide range of activities at Millstone 4-H Camp in northern Richmond County.

Kevin Spradlin | PiedmontPostNC.com Ga Ga Ball was a group favorite for children young and old (and a few adults, too).

Kevin Spradlin | PiedmontPostNC.com
Ga Ga Ball was a group favorite for children young and old (and a few adults, too).

Over three days, Josiah was one of more than 60 children and adults from 16 families scattered across the state to participate in the third-year camp. Each family had access to an 11-bed cabin that featured two shower stalls, two commodes and heating and air-conditioning. To be sure, there was not much time spent indoors.

A post showed up in my personal Facebook feed in early February advertising the three-day camp. I sent an email at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 6 to Erehn Frye, Millstone 4-H Camp’s program. I received a thorough response only 42 minutes later that answered all of my questions. I was familiar with Millstone, as I had lived only 10 minutes away between 2013 and 2015, and had frequently run on the Sandhills Gamelands that abut the Millstone property.

The cost was only $75 per adult and $50 for each child, and included food all weekend and more activities than a single person could fit in. For our two-person adventure, it was a steal.

Josiah lives with his mom in Maryland, so I drove up Thursday night to get him. We arrived in time to have dinner with family, then watched as the Greensboro Grasshoppers rallied to beat the Hagerstown Suns 10-9 in 10 innings at Municipal Stadium. I had grown up a half a block from the stadium and fell in love with the Suns, and baseball, as the team’s affiliated changed from the Orioles to the Blue Jays to the Giants and, now, to the Nationals.

Kevin Spradlin | PiedmontPostNC.com No trip to camp is complete without a campfire and marshmallows. Right?

Kevin Spradlin | PiedmontPostNC.com
No trip to camp is complete without a campfire and marshmallows. Right?

Josiah is entering his first year of organized baseball. For those adults who played the game when they were younger, you can understand how this is a magical time for any 8-year-old. Josiah not only enjoyed the game, but was given an official South Atlantic League game ball from one of the stars for the Grasshoppers. It was a great evening for a ballgame, and thankfully, the Grasshoppers won.

After the bottom of the 10th, though, we drove south. We spent the day in Summerfield, part at the house and part on the ballfields to get in some extra batting practice. His first scrimmage is coming up this weekend.

We enjoyed dinner at Golden Corral in Asheboro, then continued down U.S. 220 towards Ellerbe. It was the start of a wonderful weekend of adventure. Wall climbing, archery, swimming, fishing, canoeing, basketball, campfire, Battleship, Connect4, movie night and, of course, GaGa Ball. Josiah isn’t one to make friendly easily, but quickly found his comfort zone inside the Ga Ga Ball pit. The game isn’t as lame as I had imagined when it was first explained to me. Up to a couple of months ago, I’d never heard about it but stumbled upon an Eagle Scout from Summerfield building a pit at Northern Guilford Elementary School. I now realize just how much fun those kids are going to have in that pit.

Ga Ga Ball is a blast. As many players as possible — of a wide range of ages and abilities — fit into the octagonal-shaped structure. Players hit the ball with their fists or open hands and direct it towards their opponents, which is everyone else in the ring. While the rules vary based on one’s age and “house rules,” generally speaking, if a ball hits you at the waist or below, you’re out.

Kevin Spradlin | PiedmontPostNC.com New experiences became routine, but no less exhilarating.

Kevin Spradlin | PiedmontPostNC.com
New experiences became routine, but no less exhilarating.

Josiah played Ga Ga Ball, a brand new experience for him, each of the three days we were at Millstone. He also tried the climbing wall (he got halfway up), archery (he hit the target more often than not) as new experiences. He cast a line in Millstone Lake (nothing was biting), and we went canoeing.

The camp counselors were amazingly patient (and funny) as they helped the kids and adults through new experiences. Of course, camp counselors couldn’t have said they were at camp unless they led the group through some silly songs before each meal. You try holding your hands above your head, wrists together, elbows together, knees together, toes together, head back, tongue out, and bounce around like a jellyfish. It’s not easy.

Aside from the counselors, new friends helped make the memories lasting ones. Tony, Jacob, Brayden, Kelsey, Josie and many more.

Over 96 hours, Josiah and I logged nearly 1,500 miles in the car. We lost our balance more than once over the weekend. We missed the target. We ate too much, stayed up too late and got up too early. But I don’t think we’d change a single minute of it, and eagerly look forward to next year.

Kevin Spradlin | PiedmontPostNC.com Camp counselors were very patient with people trying new activities for the first time. Safety was paramount, but fun was a close second.

Kevin Spradlin | PiedmontPostNC.com
Camp counselors were very patient with people trying new activities for the first time. Safety was paramount, but fun was a close second.

Kevin Spradlin is editor of The Piedmont Post. Neither he nor the digital news outlet received any advertising or sponsorship money from Millstone 4-H Camp in connection with this column. 

 

Filed in: Featured News, Health, Latest Headlines, Opinion, Outdoors, Regional News

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