Up close and personal: Gail Camp

Published 11:07 am Monday, April 22, 2013


Gail Camp, shown her at her home in Sebrell, is involved in history projects and enjoys delving into her own family's history. -- Merle Monahan | Tidewater News

Gail Camp, shown her at her home in Sebrell, is involved in history projects and enjoys delving into her own family’s history. — Merle Monahan | Tidewater News

SEBRELL—When Gail Camp’s husband, S. V., passed away suddenly two years ago, she was devastated. Aside from the fact that that she had lost the love of her life of nearly 60 years, there were so many things the couple had planned for the future, including the publication of a book they were writing.

Then Camp received a call from a publisher who asked what he should do with the book her husband had submitted.

Camp couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“I did not know that S.V. had even finished the book and I certainly would not have guessed that he’d sent it off to a publisher,” she said.

The book, which details facts about Southampton County and the Camps of Barn Tavern, was published by September of that year and has become a best seller in the area.

But it also has done more than that. It has caused Camp to continue working on the projects she and her husband loved.

At present, Camp, an active member of the Southampton County Historical Society, is chairperson of the new Museum of Southampton History in Courtland. Along with William Benton and Joanne Fox, they hope to have several exhibits ready for the public to view by September, she said

Camp says her involvement in county events came about, of course, because of her husband.

“He loved this county and its people,” she said. “I was raised here too, and I feel the same, but his interest was so deep. He was not satisfied until he had all the facts about any and every event.

“Of course, I became more involved—he could not wait to discuss these events with me. ”

Camp said while her husband wrote the book, she typed the manuscript from his notes.

“And I sort of pushed him a little,” she added with a grin. “He’d write a little and then put it aside for a while. So I’d urge him to get back to it.”

The youthful grandmother, 78, who has one sister, was raised in the Boykins-Branchville area. She and S. V. dated off and on all during high school and college and married just a few months after graduation.

“During the early years, S. V. decided to go back to Virginia Tech to get his engineering degree and during those years, I taught in a two-room school, with a “Johnny House” out back. I was responsible for everything, stoking the stove and cleaning, as well as teaching.

“This was in McCoy, VA, a mining town close to Blacksburg and some of the residents had a hard time financially, but they wanted an education,” she went on

“I remember once, one of the young mothers told me she wanted to send her child to school, but the child had no shoes.

“This affected S.V and me so much that we went into town and bought a basket full of tennis shoes at $1 per pair and placed them at the school doorway for anyone to take.

Camp said it helped.

The couple moved back to the Sebrell area in the early 60s, where the family still lives. Camp has worked at Social Services and taught school for short periods of time, but said she has four children who have required much of her time.

“I also have five grandchildren,” she added. “During holidays our house is running over.”

NAME: Gail Bunch Camp.

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: I married S. V. Camp and we moved here.

HOMETOWN: Boykins.

OCCUPATION: Retired social worker and teacher.


CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND AGES: Cass, 56, Scott, 54, Amanda, 52 and Mason, 50. All of my children have finished school and have their own families. I also have five grandchildren.

FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: I enjoy a good seafood dinner at one of my favorite restaurants.

FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Kelly’s or Blue Moon at Nags Head.

FAVORITE FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Seafood and a glass of white wine.

WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: That’s hard to say—My life is pretty much an open book.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOU: I am considerate of others. I try to treat others the way I want to be treated.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: Procrastination.

PETS: None.

FAVORITE HOBBIES: Researching and delving into my family history.

PET PEEVE: I don’t like people who make promises they don’t keep.

FIRST JOB: I was a desk clerk at a hotel in Virginia Beach one summer during my college days.

IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: I worry about our country and the direction it is taking. I would urge our leaders to put a strong emphasis on getting rid of the violence and drugs and work towards getting our country back to the way it used to be—strong and safe.