What is the Billy Lancaster Forestry Youth Camp?

This Camp provides an indoor and outdoor classroom for energetic, inquisitive students to learn about forestry, wildlife, ecology, tree identification, fire protection, forest products and the people who manage these resources in Georgia's vast forests. It was founded in 1988 by Billy Lancaster and is sponsored by the Georgia Division of the Society of American Foresters.

Camp Purpose

"To develop an awareness among 12- and 13-year-old students of the value of forest resources to Georgia's economy and how those resources relate to everyday life."

Where and When is the Camp?

The Camp is held at the FFA/FCCLA Camp south of Covington, Georgia on Lake Jackson. The four day camp begins on Sunday at 1:00pm and ends at 2:00pm on Thursday. The 2020 camp will be held July 5 - July 9.

From I-20: Take Exit 93 (Hazelbrand Road and Hwy 142). Turn south onto Hwy 142. Proceed 3.3 miles and turn south (left) onto Highway 36. Proceed 9.3 miles to the FFA/FCCLA Camp entrance. Turn left into the driveway and follow FFA Road about one mile to the facility.

From I-75: Take Exit 201 (Hwy 36). Turn north on Hwy 36 and proceed to Jackson. Continue on Hwy 36 approximately 14 miles north of Jackson to the FFA/FCCLA Camp entrance on the right. Turn right into the driveway and follow the FFA Road about one mile to the facility.

Application Procedure

Up to 60 campers are selected on a first-come, first-served basis. One or two students per school will be accepted; however, selection of an alternate is encouraged in case the first choices are unable to attend. Applications are available beginning in March of each year through a mailing to middle school science teachers and guidance counselors. Once students are selected, the teacher will receive an acceptance notice and additional camp information will be mailed to the students' home the first week of June. Most schools recognize selected students by awarding the camp opportunity as a scholarship during the School Honors Program.

Any forester who wants an application for a rising 7th or 8th grade student they think would benefit by attending the camp should contact the child's Middle School Guidance Counselor for an application or Chelsea York at the Georgia Forestry Commission at 478.751.3534 or fax at 478.751.3559.

Who Can Attend?

Participants, both boys and girls, come from all over Georgia. Nominees should be 12 or 13 years of age, and interested in learning about Georgia's forest resources. Most school recognize selected students by awarding the camp opportunity as a scholarship during the School Honors Program.

How Much Does It Cost?

Student registration fees are a nominal $40.


The camp is supported by donations from forestry businesses, organizations and individuals. Sponsorships are $150 per student. Those interested in making sponsorship contributions should contact Becky Watson ([email protected]). Checks can be made payable to: Billy Lancaster SAF Forestry Youth Camp and sent to the attention of Becky Watson, P.O. Box 187, Thomaston GA 30286.


Campers are housed in cabins with counselors. Adult instructors are also available to campers.

Camp Instructors

Camp instructors are professionals from the Society of American Foresters membership and other forestry-related organizations. These individuals are professionals employed by the public and private sector and donate time from their job to be camp instructors. Students are expected to give their attention to the instructors as an examination is given on the last day.


While academics are an important part of the Forestry Youth Camp, there is plenty of time for recreational activities. The camp has excellent facilities for tennis, ping-pong, basketball, swimming, and other activities.


The student that scores the highest on the test will receive a plaque for their school and a personal plaque. All students receive a Certificate of Completion.

Photos from Past Camps

Boak Brantley, Georgia Pacific forester, leads students on a tree identification field trip.

Students learn teamwork while maneuvering an obstacle course.

Monteen McCord of HawkTalk, Inc. introduces raptors to students.

Nathan McClure, Georgia Forestry Commission Forester describes characteristics of a hickory tree to a student.

Students from a diverse background converge each year at the camp to develop an awareness of the value of Georgia's forest resources.

Students learn about the everyday uses of Georgia's forest resources, including building products.