New River Gorge National River and Friends of New River Gorge National River will host a grand opening celebration of the new Camp Brookside Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Brooks, WV, on Saturday, May 21. The event is free and open to the public. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m., but the center grounds will be open 1-3 p.m. Visitors are invited to tour the grounds to check out the newly renovated cabins, mess hall, wash house facility, and trails. The day’s events also include children’s activities, live music, and light refreshments. All event parking is at the Summers County High School, located at 1 Bobcat Drive, Hinton, WV 25951, with a free accessible shuttle service running continuously.
Built on a 32 acre island in the New River, Camp Brookside originally opened in 1947 as a children’s summer camp for the employees of Union Carbide in Alloy, WV. For years, campers enjoyed activities such as swimming, sports, and arts and crafts. During the 1960s, the plant opened the camp to family vacations and reunions. The site was purchased by the National Park Service (NPS) in 1993 and has been recently renovated to serve as an overnight facility and environmental education center for the park and surrounding communities. Camp Brookside EEC can house up to 38 overnight guests with seven cabins, including a fully accessible one with its own shower, a wash house with showers, and a large mess hall with a commercial kitchen.
Camp Brookside EEC is dedicated to becoming a premier destination for research, citizen science, and environmental education to create the next generation of park supporters and advocates for public lands. To help operate the center, and to provide other support to the NPS, the community has
re-established a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Friends of New River Gorge National River, Inc. This group will take the lead in fundraising and developing future operations of the center. Annual
memberships are available and the group also accepts donations. To learn more, visit their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/friendsnewrivergorge/.
A variety of free events will be offered at Camp Brookside EEC during its inaugural summer. The NPS has partnered with Active Southern West Virginia to offer a series of outdoor education and recreation classes such as yoga, stand up paddleboarding, bird walks, and night hikes. A calendar of events, as well as more information about the center is at www.nps.gov/neri.
The center is also available as a rental facility for events such as reunions, weddings, retreats, or field study classes. Additional amenities include WiFi throughout the premises, a reading library, and field study tools. The center offers scenic views of the New River and Brooks Falls, a class III rapid. To learn more about the leasing program, call 304-465-6508.