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Virginia Department of Veterans Services present free computers to VCU student veterans and military spouses

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The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) presented thirty laptop computers to Virginia Commonwealth University to be donated to eligible military veterans and spouses currently enrolled at the University at a special ceremony held on February 3 on the VCU campus.

These laptop donations are part of an initiative coordinated by the DVS Military Education Workforce Initiative, a program that creates partnerships with private employers and educational institutions throughout the Commonwealth. The refurbished computers are obtained from Tech for Troops, a Richmond-based nonprofit that provides computers to military veterans. This initiative is made possible by funds donated by the Altria Group to the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation (VVSF).

Patrice Jones, Director, Education Programs, DVS; John Lesinski, Chair, VVSF; Joe McCampbell, VCU student; Stephen Ross, Director, Military Services, VCU; VCU student Zachary Beasley; Dr. Daphne Rankin; Associate VP for Summer Studies and Special Programs, VCU; Mark Casper, CEO, Tech for Troops; Jacob Davenport, President, Student Veterans of America, VCU Chapter; Tyler Baldwin, VCU student; Lucas Greeves, VCU student; Daniel Gade, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Veterans Services.

During 2021, 225 laptop computers were donated to eligible student veterans and spouses attending Reynolds and Tyler Community Colleges through this ongoing program.


DVS Commissioner Daniel Gade noted, “I am very pleased to join with Stephen Ross, VCU Director of Military Student Services, and his colleagues to provide these laptops to these student veterans and spouses.  One of our primary missions at the Virginia Department of Veterans Services is assisting Virginia’s military veterans who wish to further their education as they transition from active duty status to jobs in the civilian workforce. This project is the result of a collaborative effort among VCU, the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation and our agency that can make a real difference.  We are especially appreciative of the generous financial support from the Altria Group that made this project a reality here in the Commonwealth.”

“VCU Military Student Services has had a great working relationship with the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation for quite some time,” said VCU Director of Military Student Services Stephen Ross. “Their various divisions and programs such as the Virginia Women Veterans Program, the Education Symposium, the Virginia War Memorial and more have brought us together on numerous occasions to help our military-affiliated students. Partnering with DVS, VVSF, the Altria Group and Tech for Troops on this laptop donation initiative is one more opportunity for VCU to be part of something that moves the needle for our students. Having access to quality laptops is essential to our students so they can set the bar higher with their academic accomplishments. We are proud to be part of this impactful program.”

“All of us who serve on the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation are pleased to continue our partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University and DVS in donating these laptop computers to student veterans and military spouses so they have the resources they need to further their education,” said John Lesinski, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. “It is because of the commitment to Virginia veterans and the generosity of great corporate partners such as the Altria Group that our nonprofit Foundation can continue to provide resources such as these laptops and other financial assistance to our Virginia veterans and their families. These veterans served us and it is up to all of us to serve them.”

For more information on this project and to obtain an application to receive a free laptop, please visit this link. Questions regarding this program may be directed to Patrice Jones, DVS Director of Education Programs, patrice.jones@dvs.virginia.gov or 804-212-8091.


About the DVS Military Education & Workforce Initiative

The DVS Military & Education Workforce Initiative uses a three-pronged approach to assist transitioning veterans that have chosen educational institutions as their preferred path to employment. Identifying and promoting employment pipelines, creating internship and fellowship opportunities, and highlighting community service initiatives are three methods used by the initiative to support Virginia veterans on their path to employment. Connectivity to fellow DVS programs, such as the V3 Transition Program and the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Program also serve to assure valuable services are available throughout the entirety of veterans journeys to their education and employment goals.  For more information, go to dvs.virginia.gov/education-employment.

About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services

The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans.  Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits and provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare,

housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates two state veterans nursing homes, provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries, and operates the Virginia War Memorial. For more information, please visit dvs.virginia.gov.

About the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation
The Virginia Veterans Services Foundation (VVSF) is a state agency established to support the interest of Virginia veterans and their families through programs and services offered by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. The Foundation provides supplemental funding for designated programs when state and federal funds are not available and depends solely on contributions from veteran and community organizations, businesses, grants and caring individuals. Each dollar raised stays in Virginia and 100 percent of all contributions made to the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation go directly to veterans in crisis or in need of assistance. For more information, visit vvsf.org.

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Rotary Club of Warren County: Paul Harris Fellow Recognitions

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Congratulations to several Rotary Club of Warren County members on their Paul Harris Fellow Recognition this month.

ELLEN ADERS – Ellen has been a very active member this whole year. A driving force behind pulling club members together for breakfast meetings at Mom’s Kitchen before we began gathering in person again. Always ready to participate in service projects and ready to tackle challenges. She has served the club as Secretary this year. This recognition is also for her hard work organizing the children’s toy drive for Kentucky families who suffered tornado devastation this December. And amazing work gathering sponsorships for the Ride with Rotary.

ROBERT HUPMAN +4 – Robert Hupman is a dedicated club member who participates in service projects…with a favorite passion for cleaning up our environment! Shenandoah River clean up projects are top of his list. Robert was also the mastermind behind the spontaneous trip to Kentucky for Christmas toy distribution. He hopped in his truck with friend TJ to bring toys and gift cards to children for Christmas! Robert built the shower trailer for the homeless this winter. He has a “can do” attitude and really cares about Warren County.

JEN AVERY +1 – Jen has worked as PR Chair ever since joining the club almost 3 years ago. She also helped with the Project: Christmas in Kentucky with Ellen, Robert, and Kahle. She helps with most of the social media posts (including this one…LOL), created LinkedIn account, and creates custom videos for the club.


MICHELLE SMELTZER – Michelle managed our Club Service Projects Chair this year when the need emerged. She is connected to our community in so many ways that she is able to bring community needs to the table easily within the club. Michelle and Robert worked on the Thermal Shelter shower trailer this year and has managed several drives for the homeless and those in need. She always has a positive attitude and a smile even when going gets tough!

DAVE HARDY +8 – At this point he and his wife Carol are Major Donors!!! This year Dave spent endless hours organizing the inaugural Ride with Rotary to benefit Cars Changing Lives and Reaching Out Now. Dave strategically planned every detail of the event, above and beyond what the club could have imagined. We are so grateful for his work on this very successful fundraiser.

HANK ECTON +2 – Hank has won numerous awards for his glorious newsletter. Packed with every detail you could ask for, Hank has set the standards on what a club’s newsletter could/should look like! We are all thankful for Hank and his years of dedication!!

*The Paul Harris Fellow recognition acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, of $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation.

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Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Striped Skunk

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This infant Striped Skunk was spotted all alone and wandering outside of his den. If mom dies or does not return to the den, babies who are typically too small to leave the den will venture out to find her.

Photos / Blue Ridge Wildlife Center

After monitoring the situation for a few days, it became apparent that mom was not returning and the baby came in for care.

Although thin and dehydrated upon admission, this kit was eager to eat on his own once rehydrated. We expect him to do well and be releasable later this year!


If you have unwanted skunks denning near your home, please do not intervene until AFTER baby season is over in the early fall to prevent creating orphans.

Generally, skunks are not aggressive animals and actually make good neighbors! They are most active at night and eat insects, rodents, and carrion (dead animals)—making the environment healthier for everyone.

If a skunk is behaving oddly or appears ill, or if you believe there are babies in need of help, do not try to handle them yourself. Skunks are considered a high-risk rabies vector species and handling or feeding them can result in life-threatening consequences for you and them. Call your local permitted rehabilitator as soon as you believe there is an issue.

Did you know?

Skunks do not have an infinite amount of liquid in their scent glands to spray, so they only use it when they think their lives are in danger.

Skunks will typically stomp their front paws to warn potential predators and they will even raise their tail as a threat at those who ignore this first warning. Finally, if the threat continues, they will spray. This spray causes eye irritation and has an extremely potent smell meant to distract and discourage predators from continuing their threatening advances.

Once they use their full amount, it can take days for skunks to “recharge,” leaving them potentially vulnerable to predators looking to test their luck.

Stay away and don’t get sprayed! Give skunks ample room to move away from you and try not to make quick movements. Sudden movements can make animals nervous and send them into defense mode. Keep pets on a leash when outside in an un-fenced area to help prevent them from being sprayed!


Looking for an easy way to help native wildlife? Become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.

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Community Events

Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center Annual Fireworks Show

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The Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center is pleased to again host the 2022 Independence Day Celebration. This year’s event will be on Friday, July 1st, at the 4-H Center; 600 4H Center Drive, Front Royal.

Parking will open at 5:00pm and festivities will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will continue throughout the evening, including live patriotic music performed by the American Legion Community Band. Also, food trucks will be set up so guests can enjoy some dinner while listening to the band until the capstone event of a professional fireworks display – which is sure to produce many “oohs and ahhs!”. Food trucks include: Fearless Eats (burgers and hot dogs), Rutz BBQ, Mike’s Concessions (pizza, funnel cakes, and cotton candy), Sugar Creek Snowy & Sweet, and Lemon Squeezers.

Parking will be available and Warren County Sheriff Department will be present for security and egress traffic support. A voluntary donation (recommended $5 per vehicle) will be requested at the gate to help offset the cost of the event.

New 4-H Center Director Katie Tennant says “We heard such great feedback about last year’s show that we contracted with the same vendor to provide another spectacular event! I am excited to help host this annual celebration for the community and meet more of the residents and businesses who support us throughout the year. This event would not be possible without the generous sponsorships we receive.”


The Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization with a mission to facilitate experiential learning programs for youth, families, and adults. Since 1981, the 4-H Center has offered year-round, research-based programming to the youth and families of Northern Virginia. In addition to nine weeks of summer 4-H camp, the Center offers a full range of day and overnight camps, environmental education and team-building programs, and conference and meeting facilities and services. The 4-H Center provides meals and lodging for campers and adult guests, as well as access to the Appalachian trail, a challenge course, outdoor pool, pond fishing, sports fields, and horse stables.

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Bethel Assembly of God hosts memorable flag presentation service

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Bethel Assembly of God (111 Totten Lane, Front Royal, VA 22630) was honored to host Sergeant Major (US Army Retired) James McGruder on Sunday, June 26th, 2022, for a very memorable flag presentation service. The service was arranged by Tim Wolfe, a church member and Warren County resident, and was planned to coincide with the church’s annual Independence Day celebrations.

SGM McGruder entered the U.S. Army in February 1983 and attended Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He was awarded the MOS 13B Field Artillery. After basic training, he was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas as part of the 1st 92nd Field Artillery, 8 Inch Battalion (BN).

Sergeant Major (US Army Retired) James McGruder

SGM McGruder deployed to Iraq with Alpha Battery 5-18 Field Artillery as part of Desert Shield/Storm in November 1990. While in Iraq, he risked his life to extinguish a fire in a M548 ammunition carrier in order to save the M110 Howitzer’s combat ammunition load; he took this action selflessly, without hesitation and without formal recognition of his heroism.


SGM McGruder is passionate about mentorship and ensuring the future success of the NCO Corps. In 2003, as the Senior Professional Development NCO for the Field Artillery Branch in the Human Resources Command (HRC), SGM McGruder managed over 24,000 Soldiers and expertly advised the Branch Chief and Sergeant Major on military education requirements, career progression and Military Occupational Specialty structure. While assigned to HRC, SGM McGruder was selected over more than 26 NCOs to serve as the President of the Human Resources Command, Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.

SGM McGruder has also been instrumental in developing young Officers. In July of 2009, SGM McGruder was selected by the Cadet Command CSM to serve as the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3, United States Army Cadet Command, Fort Monroe, Virginia. His selfless service and devotion to mission accomplishment made lasting impacts in training operations and opportunities throughout the command.

SGM McGruder on August 7, 2014 had the distinct privilege of introducing former president Barrack Obama prior to him signing The Veterans Affairs Overhaul Bill.  This bill signed into law a 16.3 billion dollar measure to help overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency that in recent months had faced intense criticism for long wait time for health care and manipulation of records. This was the first time in American history that an active duty Sergeant Major had ever introduced a sitting president.

SGM McGruder’s last assignment was at Fort Belvoir Garrison operations, where he served as an Enlisted Advisor to the Garrison Commander. After more than 32 years of military service, SGM McGruder retired on February 28, 2015. SGM McGruder is married to the former Tammy Buerl and they have been married for 34 years. They have two children, daughter Jamecia and son James.

The Flag Presentation Service honored Pastor Steven A. Schetrom II for his dedication to the community. Bethel Assembly of God is a growing and community-minded church working to positively impact the Front Royal-Warren County community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As an example of its dedication to the community, the church is currently working to distribute gift bags to community agency employees and volunteers to show their appreciation and support for the hard work those individuals do in the community.

Weekly services are held at Bethel Assembly of God each Sunday at 10:30am. The church also hosts or sponsors several small groups each week. The church’s mission is “to be a vital community of loving disciples committed to building one another up so that each reaches their full potential.” More information about the church can be found online at www.bethellife.org or by emailing info@bethellife.org.

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Financial advisor Bret Hrbek receives Edward Jones Spirit of Caring Award

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Bret Hrbek, an Edward Jones financial advisor in Front Royal recently received the firm’s exclusive Spirit of Caring Award designed to recognize those financial advisors who exemplify the values, culture and spirit of giving back.

Hrbek has demonstrated unyielding dedication to giving back, which has positively impacted his clients, colleagues and community.

The award is given to only one financial advisor in each of the firm’s 316 regions and is determined by a vote of his peers.

“Edward Jones is a partnership. That structure is not just financial, it’s a philosophy,” Hrbek said. “We work together, help each other and all share in the rewards of working with long-term individual investors. That brings out the best in everyone. I am humbled to be this year’s recipient of the Spirit of Caring Award.”


The Edward Jones branch-office business model, with more than 15,000 branches throughout North America, allows the firm’s nearly 19,000 financial advisors to identify what matters most to each individual client and create personalized strategies, with the goal of developing long-lasting relationships to help keep them on track toward their goals.

Hrbek’s office is located at 986 John Marshall Highway, Front Royal, Virginia.


Edward Jones, a FORTUNE 500 firm, provides financial services in the U.S. and through its affiliate in Canada. The firm’s nearly 19,000 financial advisors serve more than 8 million clients with a total of $1.7 trillion in client assets under care. Edward Jones’ purpose is to partner for a positive impact to improve the lives of its clients and colleagues, and together, better our communities and society. Through the dedication of the firm’s 50,000 associates and our branch presence in 68 percent of U.S. counties, the firm is committed to helping more people achieve financially what is most important to them. The Edward Jones website is edwardjones.com and its recruiting website is careers.edwardjones.com. Member SIPC.

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Rotary Club of Warren County names Rotarian of the Year, Jennifer Avery

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Every year the Rotary Club of Warren County awards one dedicated outstanding club member as Rotarian of the Year. This year the award goes to Jennifer Avery!

One of the biggest contributions Jen makes to the Rotary Club of Warren County is social media, photos, videos, community engagement, and public relations in general.

A few highlights of the year Avery shared included registering the club with We See You, Warren County through the Warren Coalition, representing Rotary at the Humane Society’s Polar Plunge, creating the club’s LinkedIn profile, and expanding social media reach.

Avery reflects on the year, “Helping the homeless has grown into my biggest passion. It comes easy and is so rewarding to see how the community has responded so enthusiastically and graciously! My Rotary family has been incredibly supportive through grants, event participation, and donations. I feel so grateful and so do the men we have helped at the House of Hope.”


In addition to 2021-2022 Rotarian of the Year, Avery was recognized earlier this month by Reaching Out Now with the Service Above Self award at the “Eye to See” Leadership Gala, April 2022 the Outstanding Community Service Award by the Front Royal Presbyterian Church, and 2020 BRAR Community Service Award by the Blue Ridge Association of Realtors.

Avery has served on several boards over the past few years including Front Royal Women’s Resource Center, House of Hope, and Humane Society of Warren County. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Warren County serving as the past PR Chair. However, top of the priority list of important roles Jen plays is MOM to Shiloh (15), Jordan (13), and Easton (12).

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

@AHIER

Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

National Media Services

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Studio Verde

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Vetbuilder.com

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Jun
29
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jun 29 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Jul
1
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Jul 1 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
Jul
2
Sat
10:00 am A Tree-mendous Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
A Tree-mendous Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jul 2 @ 10:00 am – Jul 3 @ 11:00 am
A Tree-mendous Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sensory Explorers’ Trail. Join Shenandoah Chapter Master Naturalist Paul Guay and explore the rich natural history of trees along the park’s Sensory Explorers’ Trail. Discover the tips and tricks of basic tree identification and the[...]
11:30 am Declaration of Independence reading @ Warren Heritage Society
Declaration of Independence reading @ Warren Heritage Society
Jul 2 @ 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Declaration of Independence reading @ Warren Heritage Society
On 2 July, at 11:30, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution will read the Declaration of Independence on the porch of the Archives at the Warren Heritage Society. [...]
12:00 pm Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jul 2 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Settle's Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Log Cabin in the Historic Area. Follow your nose to the Log Cabin to see what tasty treats are cooking on the hearth. Watch as a Sky Meadows volunteer dons historic clothing and cooks delicious[...]
12:00 pm The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jul 2 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and are ready to show[...]
Jul
6
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jul 6 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Jul
8
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Jul 8 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
Jul
9
Sat
all-day Great American Campout @ Sky Meadows State Park
Great American Campout @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jul 9 – Jul 10 all-day
Great American Campout @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Don’t miss your chance to camp out in the beautiful Historic Mount Bleak backyard. See all that Sky Meadows has to offer through activities beginning at noon on Saturday and running until noon[...]