Little did Ben Campen know when he joined Alachua County 4-H, at the age of 10, he was about to learn a lesson in life that would carry him through the next 50-plus years.
“One of the best things gained through my 4-H experience is to not be afraid of failure,” said Campen. “There is so much to be learned from what doesn’t work and why.” Campen fondly remembers the 4-H leader that helped teach him this principle.
“I was always very impressed with my leader, A.T. Andrews,” said Campen. “He was a get-it-done kind of guy. Not just in 4-H, but in everything he did. He’d always say, ‘we’ll let’s try it this way and see if this will work.’ He was never afraid of failure and he always got the job done.”
These skills helped Campen realize great success not only in his 4-H career, but in his professional life as a real estate developer, investor, and entrepreneur.
While a 4-H club member, Campen participated in nursery crops, electricity, safety, and ornamental horticulture programs. At the age of 22, Campen founded an auto dealership and began developing land soon after. Financial success made it possible for Campen to begin to give back to the 4-H program.
“I’ve always wanted to give something back to 4-H - that was very important to me,” said Campen. “4-H is a good program for all youngsters to experience.”
He believes the program builds youth character and leadership. “Through 4-H I was able to reach new heights and continually make the best of what I was doing,” said Campen.
Of all the 4-H programs Campen participated in, one remains close to his heart. “4-H camp still stands out as one of my most important parts of growing up,” says Campen. “I learned so much about working with others, competing with others, and living with others.”
It was through 4-H camp that Campen began to realize the impact that volunteers and donors can have in the life of others. “Because of my family’s financial situation, camp never would have happened without donations to help pay my way,” said Campen.
After he was in a position to do so, Campen became a generous donor to 4-H and 4-H camp scholarships. He has also been known to help 4-Hers by providing employment opportunities for them. He also raised funds for a 4-Her who needed help with medical expenses.In addition to his involvement with 4-H, Campen is involved with many other civic organizations, including the Gainesville Rotary Club and his church. He has also conducted more than 100 charity auctions raising more than $1,000,000 to help organizations that help others.