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Nebraska State 4-H Camp burns in Bovee Fire

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The Bovee Fire started in the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey earlier this week, destroying thousands of acres of forest and taking the Nebraska State 4-H Camp with it.

All that remains of the iconic camp is a staff house. The Eppley Lodge, all 10 cabins, and the Scott Lookout Tower were lost completely. According to the camp’s social media, all staff were safely evacuated.

According to local news outlet Fox42, officials said a preliminary investigation has determined that the Bovee Fire scorched 18,930 acres of land and was caused by a UTV fire on a trail. It is now 100 percent contained, but the investigation is ongoing. Smoke continues to be visible from some of the scorched areas.

It’s unclear what efforts will be made to replant the forest.

This wasn’t the first time that fire struck the state’s 4-H camp. The original 4-H camp site was dedicated in 1962 after friends of 4-H from every community in Nebraska contributed to the campaign for funds. On May 4, 1965, a major fire burned through the Nebraska State 4-H Camp, destroying the boy’s bathhouse, six cabins, and many trees. Volunteers cleaned up the area and replanted trees. The cabins were rebuilt in the same year.

In the years since its dedication, more than 30,000 campers from nearly every community in the state have experienced 4-H camp. It was the last residential 4-H camp in the state. 

Camp opportunities focused on environmental education, skill development, and the capacity for life-long learning. Campers who attended learned about making future plans, had positive experiences with adults, and met new friends. 

Since the fire, Nebraska 4-H has received support for the camp and youth development opportunities. Donations can be made here

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