History of Camp Timpoochee
4-H Camp Timpoochee was established as the first residential 4-H camping facility in Florida in 1926. It was one of the first 4-H residential camps in the nation. District agent J. Lee Smith was looking for a permanent place where 4-Hers in northwest Florida could camp. They would need sleeping cabins for protection from weather and insects, as well as a storage space for equipment and supplies. Mr. Smith discussed his idea for the camp with his friend and financier, James Pace. Mr. Pace donated an ideal location at Stake Point on the Choctawhatchee Bay. It was a high bluff covered with hardwood trees and a beach with a sloping sand bottom. The area had been used as a campground by Native Americans, and pottery shards were found along the beach.
Former State 4-H Leader Woodrow Brown wrote the following about the effort to build the camp, “Everyone was asked to pitch in. Business people in surrounding counties contributed lumber, roofing and nails to build the facilities. Even in those hard times, people gave generously in the best interest of 4-H young people.”
The first fundraising for Camp Timpoochee was done by 4-H boys and girls. In 1927, one hundred and two chickens donated by one hundred and three Escambia County 4-Hers, were loaded onto a train as it stopped in several towns in northwest Florida. These chickens were sold on the railroad track in Marianna for nearly $500, quite a sum at that time. Records tell us that 4-Hers in Washington, Bay, Walton and Santa Rosa counties raised $1,311 in 1928 for the camp, and an additional $1,500 was contributed by other friends of the program.
In the 1930s, 4-Hers were asked to name the camp. A 4-Her from Santa Rosa County, Rusty Grundin, suggested the name “Timpoochee”. The camp was named for Chief Timpoochee Kinard, Chief of the Euchee tribe. The son of a Scotsman and a Euchee Native American woman, the chief was known as “Sam Story”. The Euchee tribe befriended the white settlers who first entered northwest Florida, but eventually left the area as settlement changed the area forever. It is said that Chief Timpoochee Kinard died of a broken heart from watching the wanton destruction of the land he loved. 4-Hers suggested the name to honor the chief and his courageous people.
Over the years, 4-H Camp Timpoochee has provided educational camping experiences for thousands of 4-H boys and girls. There have been many improvements made to the cabins and facilities over the years. In 1984, the Florida 4-H Foundation kicked off a capital renewal effort, resulting in the construction of new cabins. In 1986, the Choctawhatchee Electrical Cooperative erected the pavilion. In 1995, Hurricane Opal caused over $100,000 in damage to the camp, and took 15 feet of the shoreline. The camp was rebuilt with the support of federal funds, which replenished the beach area and restored damaged buildings. The St. Joe Paper Company provides support for programs and facilities. Fred Barber left $10,000 through his will to the camp which was used to fund program equipment. A marine center was dedicated in 1998 with funds donated by the Dupont Company.
Among the four 4-H camps in use in Florida today, Camp Timpoochee is unique because of its facilities for horses and its location on the bay, which provides an excellent area for marine study.