Deer Creek Overlook

The 4-H Deer Creek Overlook camp is on land purchased in 1925 and is the oldest 4-H camp still operating in Maryland. (April 23, 2012)

The Harford County 4-H Conference and Retreat Center with its Deer Creek Overlook can handle a variety of community, business and family events, members of Mason-Dixon Business Association learned at their recent meeting.

About 30 members of the organization attended the March 21 meeting Mason-Dixon Business Association meeting at the Overlook banquet hall, where the guest speaker was Kim Bachman, guest services manager for the camp.

Adjacent to Rocks State Park off of Route 24 at 6 Cherry Hill Road, the camp has picnic pavilions, a swimming pool, volleyball courts, a lodge and fields, along with Deer Creek Overlook and its conference room.

Any of the facilities may be rented by the public for weddings, family reunions, dances, fundraisers, seminars, business events or other activities.


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Bachman said the camp is on land purchased in 1925 and is the oldest 4-H camp still operating in Maryland. She also said it is the only independent, self-funded 4-H camp in the state, and is now by Harford County 4-H Clubs, Inc.

It receives no financial support from Harford County government, the state of Maryland or the 4-H, Bachman said, and instead relies upon fundraising, donations and facility rentals to support its operation.

The camp's 14-member board overseeing its operation has representatives from the Farm Bureau, Young Farmers and 4-H groups, as well as at-large directors. Its property includes a 185-acre tree farm and 152 acres in agricultural preservation.

Bachman said it took 25 years to raise money to construct Deer Creek Overlook, the banquet hall that opened in 2008. That facility is climate controlled and has seating for 290 people. It has the additional conference room, also, and porches.

The two picnic pavilions with concrete floors have tables to accommodate 150 people, with lights, potable water and access to the volleyball courts, fields and Red Cross-staffed swimming pool.

According to Bachman, all-day use of the pavilion and volleyball courts with seven hours of pool time can be rented for $250 for the first 25 people and $6.50 per person over that limit. In the event of inclement weather, the Overlook facility is available, she said.

"We're working really hard to do things that make sense for the community in order to continue to grow and expand," she said.

The Overlook hall is rented for $1,100 on Saturdays or Sundays for seven-hour periods, including four hours for the event and three hours as set-up and take-down times.

The camp's rustic Rocks Lodge offers open-space seating for 175, a working fireplace and a basic kitchen.

The lodge and the picnic pavilions are available seasonally April through November.

The camp hosts Boy Scouts gatherings and lacrosse camps, in addition to the 4-H.

"Our goal is really to deliver a wonderful host site where you can have 'your day your way,'" Bachman said, adding that the camp has no noise restrictions.

Also, since the camp is privately owned and not government affiliated, it is not required to comply with newly-enacting smoking restrictions. Responsible use of alcohol is permitted.

For organizations conducting certain fundraisers at the camp, the board of directors refunds $100, said Bachman.

She described facilities enjoyed by the 4-Hers themselves as three camper dormitories for 162 people, each with restrooms, a crafts barn with a nurse's station and the Diamond Clover campfire circle, designed by the kids in 2008.

Bachman said that renovations and upgrades at the conference and retreat center require a continuous need to generate funds and support.

Some of that support is provided as skilled labor from hunters in exchange for hunting rights, she said, and she also told of support from local churches such as Pathway Community Church and Mountain Christian Church.

In fundraising, the camp is the site for outdoor sportsmen's raffles, car events, bingo, breakfasts and nursery auctions.

Public barn dances with a band and BYOB privileges are held during the winters with admission $10 per person.

Of the various activities the facility can host, Bachman said people can come for grown-up time even if they do not like nature.

She urged the Mason Dixon Business Association members to contribute in-kind service ideas and to volunteer in camp activities.

The business group's luncheon was provided by Good Taste Catering, LLC, owned by Tina Krizek, who operates from the Deer Creek Overlook kitchen and, along with special events and parties, handles lunches at private schools in the county.

Anyone wishing to schedule a tour of Harford County 4-H Conference & Retreat Center may call Bachman at 410-838-5464 or email events@deercreekoverlook.com. The website is http://www.deercreekoverlook.com. For catering, Krizek can be reached at 410-935-7538.

Mason-Dixon Business Association has the mission of supporting and improving its MD/PA community and businesses through networking, education and activities. Annual dues are $75, and monthly luncheon meetings are $15. Its website is http://www.masondixonba.org.