Webster History 101: Camp Caesar

Webster County is a history buff’s paradise. From Lover’s Lane boardwalk to Mollohan Mill and Morton Mansion, there is something to explore for everyone. One of our long-time favorites, though, is Camp Caesar, and for good reason.

We sat down with Travis Giles, Camp Caesar’s newest Director to learn more about Camp Caesar’s rich history and what the future holds after 100 years.

Q: What makes Camp Caesar historic?

Travis Giles:
Camp Caesar has been around for 100 years. It was established in 1922. The majority of the structures on the property were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the National Youth Association (NYA) in the 1930s and 40s.

West Virginia was at the national forefront of summer 4-H camp establishments, and Camp Caesar became one of the most highly developed county-level 4-H camps in the state. For over 100 years, Camp Caesar has hosted the Webster County Fair, which is the oldest fair in the state. In addition, Camp Caesar has hosted the West Virginia Conservations Camp for 80 years and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Q: Are there any structures or spots at Camp Caesar that should be visited by a history buff?

Most of the structures on the property were built prior to 1950. Many structures are of architectural and historical interest. At the top of the camp sets a beautiful 15-acre lake that has been a special feature of the camp since 1957.

Q: What is Camp Caesar’s purpose now and how has it changed over the years?

Camp Caesar was established in 1922 with its core value being youth education. The camp’s belief that tomorrow’s citizens come from today’s youth has never changed.

Q: Can one stay the night at Camp Caesar?

Yes. During the spring and fall, individuals and families from all over enjoy spending time at Camp Caesar. During the summer months, most of the camp is rented out to larger groups such as 4-H camps, band camps, conservation camps, and more.

Q: What makes Camp Caesar worth visiting?

Camp Caesar is a beautiful and peaceful wooded campus with a park-like atmosphere. The camp is set on the banks of the Gauley River and borders the National Forest. It is a remarkable and fun place for camps, reunions, weddings, and parties. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful surroundings as they hunt, fish, hike, picnic, and vacation with friends and loved ones.

Q: As the new Director of Camp Caesar, do you have any goals for 2022 and the years ahead?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the camp has seen a slowdown and even shut down over the last couple of years. My main goal this year is to get the camp back up and running at full capacity. As for the future, I hope to make some much-needed repairs and renovations throughout the camp to allow for even more expansion and growth.

Q: What is your favorite historical part of the camp?

My favorite part of the camp has nothing to do with its structural history. It is the history created by the people who visit the camp. I believe that every person that has visited this camp since the time that it began has created some form of history here. I hope that the memory of that historical mark goes on with them and leads them back again and again, and year after year.

Q: Can you describe what makes Camp Caesar special in relationship to Webster County?

Webster County is a rural area that is graced with natural beauty and small-town charm. However, there are no malls, movie theaters, amusement parks, or racetracks. There are not a lot of opportunities for jobs or entertainment that you would find in more urban areas. Camp Caesar is that place for the people of Webster County. The Camp provides gathering places for weddings, picnics, and reunions. It has a public swimming pool for families to enjoy and a lake for fishing. The camp hosts the Webster County Fair each year which brings rides and games to the community. Kids from Webster County, as well as from other surrounding areas, attend many different styles of camps here where they learn lessons that they carry with them through life. Camp Caesar provides employment opportunities to teenagers where they work alongside adults and learn valuable job experience and life skills.

Camp Caesar holds history beyond its building’s walls including memories that span across Webster County, West Virginia, and even the world. For more information about Camp Caesar and to schedule a visit or historical tour, call 304.226.3888.