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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

McGennis Youth Center is for all kids

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One of the favorite topics that I personally prefer for these columns relates to the McGennis Youth Center. The board recently had their annual meeting while I was out of the country (literally). The officers were re-elected: President, Robert Wills, Rich Hill; vice-president, Virginia Habjan; secretary, Debbie Balk, Rich Hill; and treasurer, Carla Armentrout.

The board is responsible for the development and maintenance of the McGennis Youth Center which was started more than 40 years ago as a gift for youth in this area by Mary A. McGennis. The board of directors is appointed by the Bates County, Vernon County, St. Clair County and Henry County extension councils.

Each year an annual report is prepared. The annual report for 2008 features a young boy proudly holding a fish. The theme given for the report is, "The place for the kid in all of us." Certainly, this theme speaks about how the center relates to those that go to the center. It is a fun and inspiriting place. In his report, Robert Wills, president said, "The beauty of the center continues to be a peaceful haven for those willing to take advantage of the surroundings."

With more people looking for something close and inexpensive to go to for a variety of fun experiences, the MYC provides the place to go. It is and will meet the needs of several children and families in this area. Even though it has been going on for 40 years, there are many who have not gone to the center or are not familiar with it. You really have to see it and be involved with it to realize what exist at the lovely site.

The center features a 6-acre lake, which is a popular area of the center. The lake is used for swimming and fishing. A lifeguard is provided in season on Wednesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (no swimming without a lifeguard being present). Two shelter houses, with fireplaces and picnic tables, flank the lake.

A chapel has been moved to the center and restored to its original country atmosphere. A sports area contains a ball diamond, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts. The center has three cabins that can be used by those wishing to spend the night. The cabin area features a storage shed built by the vocational agriculture department at Rich Hill High School, as well as a modern restroom facility with showers. A rural school house has also been moved to the center. When I see the school house it reminds me of the one-room school that I attended for the eight years of my grade school, Black School, even if the two school buildings had different features.

An original building at the center was a red barn, this building has been restored, and is the location of a modern kitchen facility and dining area. The barn also serves as the background for the "Theatre Under the Stars" productions and for storage. A snack shack is in operation during swim time. The supervisor's home is also located at the center.

In the president's report, Robert said, "Mary McGennis established the McGennis Youth Center with her donation of land to be utilized as a place for youth character building. The center grounds contribute to be an outstanding tribute to Mary McGennis. The current board members work to maintain her legacy and strive to provide a safe and enjoyable place for all." He reported that the center made one major purchase during the year, a zero radius turn mower. This equipment will be beneficial to the center.

Scott and Tina Sudkamp have been serving as caretakers at the center in recent years. Many have described them as being highly beneficial to the center and have rendered a valuable service. They have decided to leave this position. In their report for 2008 they reported that 41 reservations were made. Day use: 26 groups -- family and church picnics, birthday parties, Easter Sunrise Service, trail rides, meetings, fishing tournaments, cardboard boat race, reunions, and several school groups. Overnight: 15 groups -- cub scouts boy scouts Royal Rangers, families, church youth groups, women's retreat, extension office (McGennis Youth Camp) and school group.

There were two volunteer groups during the year, Rich Hill Youth Development and the Nevada High School Service Learning class. Projects they completed included: hiking trail maintenance, remove old mattresses and put in new ones, move picnic tables and painted picnic tables.

There were 723 swimmers during the year, 29 in May, 366 in June, 267 in July and 61 in August. The snack shack made approximately $200 in profit. Water, soda, apple juice candy, granola bars and popsicles were sold.

Scott and Tina reported that even though the 4th of July stand at Rich Hill was open three days because of the rain, they still used 110 pounds of hamburger for walking tacos and chili dogs and 20 pounds of pork for sandwiches.

Repairs made included signs repainted, more sand for the beach, stalls built in the men's room, new tables in the barn, bulletin board updated, rat guards around three cabins, new climbing wall, new lifeguard chair, new siding on gables of bath house began sorting and cleaning the school house, new railing on dock, and a new refrigerator for the snack shack.

To be continued . . .

Leonard Ernsbarger
Leonard At Large