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History & Info


History & Info

About Us

The Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center in Harmony Hollow, adjacent to the Shenandoah National Park and The Appalachian Trail, is only a few miles from Interstate 66 as well as Interstate 81. No picture could do it justice as the view from our mountainside location in Front Royal, VA is pristine and one of a kind. The 4-H Center boasts a rich history; we invite you to explore.

We offer many different programming opportunities such as Low and High Ropes Challenge Course, a 2-sided Climbing Tower, as well as Environmental Education and Outdoor Education. Along with those opportunities, we offer conferencing space and facilities for retreats. Our facility is open year-round and is designed for groups at affordable prices. We offer a complete line of services including handicapped accessible heated lodging, dining service, wireless internet, meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment, and recreational facilities. We welcome mid-week and weekend business for conferences, seminars, retreats, and workshops. 

The James E. Swart Animal Center

Front Royal Remount Depot

There was a time when “war horse” was not just a figure of speech. The place was where the Piedmont meets the Blue Ridge. 

By Andrea Gaines

 “The United States will have a permanent supply of horses of the type most useful for military purposes as well as general purpose usage when plans now being formulated by the federal authorities are carried to fruition.” So began an early 20th Century news article marking a crucial turning point in the U.S. Army’s “remount” movement. So began one of the most interesting chapters in military-and Virginia thoroughbred industry-history.

“Remount” is the term used to describe the purchase, training, and delivery of horses and mules used by the United States military, a process designed to make available a supply of fresh draft and cavalry animals.  As far back as the Civil War, the US government had encountered great difficulty in securing quality horses and mules, and in caring for them.  The system was decentralized, inefficient, and incapable of meeting demand should a large number of animals be needed quickly. But it wasn’t until the early part of the 20th Century that the Army got serious about the “remount problem.”

In 1907, Major General James B. Aleshire, then Qartermaster General, issued a report outlining the remount problem and recommending the establishment of a special division to be charged with the purchasing and handling of horses and mules. He also recommended the establishment of centralized locations with established standards and procedures.

On Aleshire’s recommendations, key remount depots were established at Fort Reno, Oklahoma; Fort Keogh, Montana; Front Royal, Virginia. But, while Aleshire got his remount depots, it wasn’t until the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917 that his full vision was embraced. Military experts of the time estimated that the United States might be called upon to produce as many as million horses and mules, and on May 15, 1918, the Secretary of War approved a Quartermaster General plan for the breeding of a “suitable type” of cavalry animal.

The Virginia Front Royal Remount Depot (named for a time after General Aleshire) was acquired by act of Congress in 1911 and in operation by the fall of1915. Its function was quite specific: “for the purchase, receipt, quarantine, and conditioning for issue of animals required by the Army in the eastern zone.”

Virginia was well known as the home of the half-breed hunter in America, and scientifically-based breeding of horses had been going on for many years. It was the perfect place for the ultimate goals of the Army: a superior military and “civilian” horse! Front Royal was designed as a clearinghouse for stallions used in the Army’s breeding program. The majority of the best stallions purchased by the Army in the 1920’s was purchased in the East, conditioned at the Front Royal Remount Depot and shipped to other Depots across the country.

This enabled the Front Royal Depot to develop an extremely skilled breeding program, and it also attracted the attention and generosity of the most successful horse breeders and owners of the day. Many breeders and owners donated their winning stallions to the Army for breeding purposes through the Front Royal Depot,  not only maximizing the quality of our military horses but also energizing the entire US thoroughbred industry.

“Jenny Camp,” the most famous Army-bred horse, was born at the Front Royal Depot. She was one of only three horses to win consecutive individual medals at the Olympics. The Depot also has connections to the famous Lipizzaner stallions rescued by General George S. Patton in World War II, who were at one time on display there, and “Nordlicht” the horse once described as “the finest thoroughbred on the continent” of Europe. Horseman Samuel D. Riddle donated the services of “Man o’ War,”one of the greatest racehorses of all time, to the Front Royal Depot, as did scores of other prominent breeders.

General Pershing is reported to have ridden his horse the 70 miles from Warrenton to the Depot, part of a “recuperative program” suggested by his physicians. Pershing’s famous horse “Kidron” which he rode in the Paris victory parade of 1919, passed its last days at the Depot, where he died in 1942.

The Virginia horse industry and the Front Royal Remount Depot placed superior animals on the market, helped ensure high quality animals would be available to the Army, and made equestrian dreams come true. Together, they made history. As the Quartermaster journal noted in 1930, “The Front Royal Remount Depot now occupies a place in the breeding industry not only of Virginia but the entire East…a model for the average practical horseman for experimental breeding, care, and conditioning of stallions, brood-mares, foals, and young stock.... Since the War we have learned much about remount work and breeding. Within very limited appropriations we have been able to clear fields, properly rotate them, and construct temporary sheds and stables that follow the modern ideas of the breeding, care, and conditioning of horses.”

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ACA Accreditation

ACA Accreditation

Purpose of Accreditation

Fun And Safety — ACA Camps Set the Standard

The Northern Virginia 4-H Center has been accredited by the American Camp Association since 1995. Accreditation means that the 4-H Center and other accredited camps care enough to undergo a thorough (up to 300 standards) review of its operation — from staff qualifications and training to emergency management. American Camp Association® collaborates with experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth-serving agencies to assure that current practices at the camp reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation. Camps and ACA form a partnership that promotes summers of growth and fun in an environment committed to safety.

ACA helps accredited camps provide:

  • Healthy, developmentally-appropriate activities and learning experiences
  • Discovery through experiential education
  • Caring, competent role models
  • Service to the community and the environment
  • Opportunities for leadership and personal growth

What’s the difference between state licensing of camps and accreditation by ACA?

Accreditation is voluntary and ACA accreditation assures families that camps have made the commitment to a safe, nurturing environment for their children. Licensing is mandatory and requirements vary from state to state. ACA standards are recognized by courts of law and government regulators as the standards of the camp community.

How do ACA standards exceed state licensing requirements?

ACA goes beyond basic requirements for health, cleanliness, and food service into specific areas of programming, including camp staff from director through counselors, emergency management plans, health care, and management. ACA applies separate standards for activities such as waterfront, horseback riding, and adventure and travel.

What are some of the ACA standards that camps rely on?

  • Staff to camper ratios are appropriate for different age groups
  • Goals for camp activities are developmentally based
  • Emergency transportation available at all times
  • First-aid facilities and trained staff available when campers are present


Visit for more information about ACA accreditation, and ACA's outcomes research.