Grab your colleagues, classroom, wedding party or other special large group, and start planning a retreat to the stunning waterfront Eastern 4-H Center, a relatively new, (built in 2001), and hard-to-miss attraction in the heart of Eastern North Carolina in Columbia.

The center is technically an extension of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State, and is administered by the Cooperative Extension Service, Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family Consumer Sciences, but it serves a multitude of purposes well outside of these realms.

One of its primary goals is to provide tailor-made events and retreats for both classrooms and corporate groups, focusing on acquiring new skills, building confidence, exploring new interests and developing a sense of empowerment. Programs can be designed by a group's teacher or team leader, or interested parties can contact the helpful staff for suggestions on different activities and experiences available at the center. From indoor and outdoor classrooms to environmental education, outdoor kayaking and games to team challenge courses, the Eastern 4-H Center offers more activities than a single group could possibly take advantage of in one visit.

Parties who are staying at the center will find fantastic accommodations available at their fingertips. The 250 acre site faces the scenic Bulls Bay and includes a network of meadows, pocosin forests, wetlands, creeks and rivers, all tied together by a number of wooden boardwalks, rustic nature trails, boat piers docks, and shaded gazebos. The lodgings at the center are climate controlled with private bathrooms, and the dining facilities are extensive and can easily accommodate large groups.

While the center lends itself perfectly to outdoor educational programs, activities and projects, inside the center's facilities, patrons will find fantastic music and art centers and a well-equipped science lab for year-round learning opportunities. Sprawling conference facilities, (as well as expertly prepared meals), make the center an even more attractive venue for corporate retreats or large-scale conferences in a central Eastern North Carolina locale.

What tends to make the biggest splash at the Eastern 4-H Center, however, are the many diverse summer camps that are offered annually to local and visiting kids and groups. Camps vary yearly, but can include a world of new adventures, including a Marine Science and Sailing Camp, a Cloverbud Camp for younger kids, and a Canvasback Camp which teaches young hunters about waterfowl conservation. Most camps are held for a week-long duration, and advanced reservations are greatly encouraged as each camp has a set number of campers allowed for each center, generally running in the 30-60 participant range. Interested parties can register online at, or call 252-797-4800 for more information.

In addition to weeklong camps, interested groups and parties can also sign up for specialized programs which include sessions on environmental education, a "Leaders in Training" course which guides future youth leaders and camp counselors, and a challenging rope course which requires team effort and problem solving skills to complete. Ideal for adults and young adults who want to advance their own skills and confidence, these programs can be reserved for groups with plenty of notice by calling 252-797-4800.

Of course, a group doesn't have to be on a rigorous retreat or involved in a summer camp to enjoy the facilities. Parties can enjoy a day trip or an overnight adventure, (at the in-house lodgings, comfy cabins, or at rustic campsites), at their convenience with an advanced reservation, and can also take advantage of all the incredible outdoor amenities the facilities have to offer. Typical adventures include canoeing, kayaking, sailing, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and birding, and with acres of waterfront to explore, and plenty of equipment available to enjoy the region to its fullest, groups staying at the 4-H Center will surely find no shortage of unstructured fun.

Regardless of whether your primary interest is an educational and fun retreat for your classroom, a fun team-building and empowering reboot for your company and staff, or simply a group vacation to one of the Inner Banks' most scenic locales, the Eastern 4-H Center can certainly fulfill your needs. Come discover the endless possibilities for education, personal and community growth and fun, and experience a retreat in Columbia that your party will surely never forget.