From Licking County Library's Wiki!
Jump to: navigation, search

Camp O'Bannon

Camp O’Bannon originated in the 1920s as a “Fresh Air” camp for children with Tuberculosis.[1] It was also called Licking County Health Camp where children stayed all summer to gain weight.[2] Key sponsors of the camp since its inception have included organizations such as Newark Kiwanis Club, the 20th Century Club, United Way, the Ohio Department of Education, and the Davis Foundation.[3]

Eventually, the camp evolved as Camp O’Bannon to provide a summer haven for boys and girls ages 9-13 to meet new children and build social skills over a course of a few weeks. Children were referred to the camp by teachers and social service agencies based on their economic status, family and home life, and self-esteem. The counselors of the camp were usually seniors in high school or college students.[4]

The camp’s current main site, although it was moved at least once, is 9688 Butler Road in Newark, Ohio. An outpost camp for older campers was also opened near Blackhand Gorge.[5] The current mission of the camp is “Camp O’Bannon is a summer camp and year-round program which fosters development of self-esteem, and an atmosphere of respect, with an emphasis on socialization for referred children of Licking County.”[6] In 1997, the camp celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary.


Camp Ohio

Camp Ohio, or 4-H Camp Ohio, was opened in 1928 off County Road 210 near St. Louisville after a group of 4-H Extension Agents worked together to purchase 129 acres in the area for a local 4-H camp.[7] Over the years, it has expanded to over 500 acres with a swimming pool and space for many activities and resources.[8] The camp has multiple meeting rooms, a full farm, and an herb garden.[9] It has specific programs for nature study, creative arts, adventure programming, sports and recreation, and living history.[10] It was the first 4-H camp in Ohio and is currently located on Camp Ohio Road.[11] The camp serves more than 4,800 4-H members each year and the members come from 13 countries across the state of Ohio.[12]


Camp Wakatomika

The beginnings of Camp Wakatomika go back to May 13, 1942 with the purchase of 260 partially-wooded acres in the northeast portion of Licking County within Fallsbury Township. The Newark Area Girl Scout Council’s purchase and development of the camp was the dream of Ruth “Sholly” Shollenbarger who had been employed by the council since 1932. Prior to Sholly’s decade of work directing the development of the new site into a fledgling working camp, she had been directing Girl Scout camping activities through the Boy Scout’s Camp Falling Rock and Tar Hollow State Park.

During that first decade, an old farmhouse was repurposed into a winter lodge, summer and weekend camping areas were built, and many trees and trails were added with the help of volunteers. By 1952, when Sholly began a new position with the council in Columbus, a new lodge and other units were built. The camp’s addition to the Heart of Ohio Girl Scout Council followed shortly thereafter.

By 1960, the Lentz Lodge and a pond were built, and two new tenting units were added along with a swimming pool through the generous donations of time, money, and land from many residents.

By the 1990s, a nature trail and specially-designed adjoining cabins had been constructed. The cabins enabled scouts having physical disabilities to stay at the camp. Over the years many Girl Scouts have enjoyed hiking, swimming, singing, camping, canoeing, horseback riding, rappelling, bicycling, team sports, and more. Camp Wakatomika celebrated its 50th year in 1992.[13]



  1. Kent Cahlander, “Celebrities serve up slice of Camp O’Bannon history,” (Newark Advocate), May 2, 1997.
  2. “Scenes from yesteryear,” (Newark Advocate), May 2, 1997.
  3. “Camp O’Bannon,” (brochure, Newark, Ohio, 1999).
  4. Linda McCoy, “Camp O’Bannon: The fulfillment of a community need,” (Newark Advocate), June 28, 1967.
  5. “Camp O’Bannon,” (brochure, Newark, Ohio, 1999).
  6. “Camp O’Bannon,” (brochure, Newark, Ohio, 1999).
  7. Dan Fleming, A Bicentennial History of Licking County, Ohio 1808-2008, (Newark, Ohio: Shamrock Printing, 2008), 50-51.
  8. “About Us,”, Accessed February 17, 2017,
  9. Dan Fleming, A Bicentennial History of Licking County, Ohio 1808-2008, (Newark, Ohio: Shamrock Printing, 2008), 50-51.
  10. “About Us,”, Accessed February 17, 2017,
  11. L.B. Whyde, “Welding a lasting impression on a local 4-H icon,” The Advocate, March 9, 1997.
  12. “About Us,”, Accessed February 17, 2017,
  13. Barnes, Jean; Greider, Marie. “Girl Scout Camp Wakatomika, 1942-1992.” The Licking County Historical Society Quarterly Vol 2, no. 2 (Summer, 1992).