Four of North Carolina's 4-H youth camps are closing at the end of the year due to financial struggles.
Leaders of the program say operations and maintenance costs have been going up while funds they get from fees and donors have been dropping since the economic downtown. 4-H camps charge about $450 for a week of activities.
State 4-H director Marshall Stewart says local chapters started to see a steep decline in campers when the recession started.
"A lot of our families across North Carolina just literally could not afford to send youth to camp anymore, so in order to sustain a quality program for the future, we see that we're just going to have to be smaller, but yet have hopefully a richer, deeper experience for our young people in terms of youth development," he says.
Stewart says the organization will use the money it has to upgrade its two remaining facilities near Rockingham and Manteo. The camps serve about 9,000 children each year.
"It's sort of a perfect storm," he says.
"You have an economic downswing, you have increasing costs of operating, and yet you want to provide these experiences for young people, so you have to make the tough choices of making sure that we have quality experiences in the future, and the only way we saw to do that was to go to two properties."