Join Mrs. Ernestine Wilson as she shares stories from her experience at Group Camp 7. Interview was conducted by Ranger Ethan Howes.
Bio of Ernestine Wilson:
ERNESTINE GREGORY WILSON
A native of Chesterfield County, Virginia, Ernestine Gregory Wilson is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Arthur S. Gregory, Sr. Ernestine is a very proud graduate of the Class of 1964 at G. W. Carver High School and Virginia State University where she received the Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Education and the Master of Education Degree in Guidance and Counseling.
Upon receiving her degree in Business Education, Ernestine taught business subjects at Matoaca High School. In addition to her job as a teacher, she also served as sponsor of the Student Council Association, the National Honor Society and the school's first Gospel Chorale. As a counselor, Mrs. Wilson served students and parents at Matoaca Middle School as well as Midlothian, Thomas Dale and Meadowbrook High Schools. Following retirement in June 2009, for two years she worked through the GRASP (Greater Richmond Area Scholarship Program) at Petersburg and Hopewell High Schools where she counseled students and their parents on making positive decisions for life after high school and was instrumental in providing several students with scholarships.
Mrs. Wilson is presently a member of First Baptist Church South Richmond. She had been an active member of Gillfield Baptist Church, Petersburg for forty-four years, but found a deeper calling at FBCSR. She is a member of the Scholarship Committee and serves as a substitute teacher for the New Members Classes. Ernestine feels that her calling is in ministering to young women. As president of the Division of Women, Baptist General Convention of Virginia (2005-2007), she shared with such young women by facilitating workshops coordinating retreats and serving as keynote speaker in BGC churches throughout the Commonwealth.
Active in offering service to the greater Petersburg community, Ernestine is a member of the Chesterfield Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, The Women's Committee for the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Greater Petersburg Area Alumni Association of VSU and a former President (2011-2015) of the Petersburg Chapter, The Links, Incorporated. Under her leadership, The Links enrichment program for a select group of students in Petersburg Public Schools served 19 young people from Vernon Johns Junior High School and Petersburg High School. The program, Total U was designed to: refine basic skills (SOL competencies, especially in science, technology, engineering and math); provide exposure to culturally-enriching activities; present positive role models; and promote healthy self-images and positive life choices/habits.
Ernestine was named "Teacher of the Year" at Matoaca High in 1999, and was a finalist for Teacher of the Year at Meadowbrook High in 2007. She has received the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award; the Petersburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority President's Award; and several awards from the Alpha Eta Chapter (VSU) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Ernestine was married to the late Fred B. Wilson for fifty years and twenty-eight days. Together they raised three adult children, Fred, Corey and Crystal, and delighted in being grandparents of three handsome, smart and very talented young men, Fred Benjamin, Avery and Myles, one lovely adult grand-daughter, Jasmine, and last but certainly not least, Granny and G-Pop's beautiful princess, Ryann Elyse.
The following poem, a gift from a former student, depicts just who Ernestine Gregory Wilson is:
Women Who Change the World
There are women who make things better ... simply by showing up.
There are women who make their way.
There are women who make a difference and women who make us smile.
There are women of wit and wisdom Who through strength and courage make it through.
There are women who change the world every day ...
Women like YOU!
Join Ranger Kalen for part two of the Group Camp 7 series to learn about the history of the site and the pioneers who led the way.
Group Camp 7 was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and was in use until the 1970s. After opening, Group Camp 7 was designated for use by African-Americans at the time. In addition to this, the site also hosted several summer camps that were operated by local church groups here in Virginia.
We will take a closer look at the history of the site and the leaders who made it possible.
Join Ranger Ethan during Black History Month to discover more about the once segregated portion of what is now Pocahontas State Park.
Group Camp 7 had a dining hall, several group cabins, and a small lake with a swim beach. The camp was built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps and was used until the 1970's. Often, churches would rent out the facilities and host summer camps for local youths, such as the Baptist General Convention did in the 1940's when they developed Camp Carey for girls.
Today, all that remains is the lake, a brick retaining wall, and some building foundations. The area is accessible via the Otter Lick Loop Trail. We highly encourage community members who may have visited the area to share their memories so that we may fully tell the story of this area in the park.
For more park history on this topic, please check the following link: