Clubbing it Up in Prince William: Area Clubs Offer Unique Experiences

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By Erin Pittman and Katrina Wilson

Ready to go “clubbing” with us? For this kind of clubbing, you may need to gear up — with a dirt bike, over-the-ankle boots and a helmet. Or you may need a list of ingredients for a food challenge, your favorite collectible card or your own ham radio.

Read on for a glimpse into some of Prince William’s lesser-known, unique clubs.

Family Off-Road Riders of Prince William County

For over a decade, FORPWC has allowed parents and kids to ride their dirt bikes and ATVs in safe places while having fun.

For its first 12 years, FORPWC operated on a property in Nokesville, but their fun is now spread out on three properties in nearby counties. While they do not currently ride on properties in Prince William County, David Hagy, president of FORPWC, said the club provides safe, legal places for Prince William residents to access private properties via negotiated leases. The club also has a special-use permit to build an off-road park on an unused county park in Nokesville.

“We are in a design phase of developing a construction plan for that,” he said. “We have a lease plan with Prince William County Parks and Recreation. We essentially have to finalize our plan.”

The club handles the important business of leases and carrying insurance.

“We carry an insurance policy to protect the property owners from liability issues,” he said. “In turn, this allows us to successfully negotiate leases to establish properties where we can put trails for folks to ride their bikes and ATVs.”

Members are allowed to ride during hours set by property owners. While some owners only allow riding on certain days and times of the week, others are a little more flexible. “Usually we’re open from dawn to dusk,” he said. “During the summertime we do dawn to 8 p.m. There are no formal riding times. Our members usually communicate with each other on our communication platform and get a small group together to ride.”

FORPWC stresses that riders must follow safety precautions. For instance, there must always be at least two riding members at one property.

“We require everyone to wear a proper level of safety equipment — long pants, long shirt, over-the-ankle boots, gloves, googles, helmets and we recommend chest protectors,” he said. “We’re trying to create a safe and responsible environment, especially for new people to the sport, so they can know how to prepare
themselves properly.”

FORPWC’s membership year is April to March. There is a one-time initiation fee plus memberships fees, which vary and include options for individuals and families.

“This pays our insurance, lease fees and pushes through the project in Nokesville we are trying to develop,” Hagy said. Many families belong to the club. Parents often want to introduce their children to riding and find places for kids to ride their new ATVs or dirt bikes.

“We also have members who are men and women in their 40s trying to rekindle their childhood a little bit and re-engage in an activity that they did when they were a kid. Or now is their opportunity to do it if they never knew how to,” he said.

The club continues to meet amid the pandemic.

“When the outbreak first started, we followed guidelines and didn’t allow more than 10 people on any property at one time,” Hagy said. “We’re not so big a population where we have 250 people in one location at any time. In order to maintain social distancing, we usually have between eight and 20 people together at one time in giant open fields.”

For more information, visit forpwc.com.

Prince William County’s 4-H

Prince William County’s 4-H is the youth component of Virginia Cooperative Extension in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park City. Mary Beth Lerch, extension agent for 4-H, explained unique clubs are integral to the program. Youth can join a variety of community and project clubs.

Youth complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and civic engagement in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Lerch said in 4-H, youth obtain experience in different areas, hands-on
learning, life skills application, and how and why they are learning the life skills.

4-H Food Challenge

The 4-H Food Challenge is a project that challenges teams of 4-H members to create a dish using only a predetermined set of ingredients. From these ingredients, team members must identify and prepare the dish, then make a presentation about it to the judges. Contest teams have 40 minutes to plan and prepare a dish. They also prepare a presentation based on nutritional content, preparation safety and portion cost.
“This incorporates some math,” Lerch said. “Teams must calculate the cost per serving which teaches them how to do store shopping math. Teams are judged against a rubric on preparing the meal and a face-to-face presentation.”

She added on that they also learn kitchen safety and My Plate guidelines, the USDA recommendations for balanced meals, while in the food challenge.

4-H Shooting Club

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Members of Prince William County 4-H prepare to aim for the target, as a part of the shooting club

“Shooting sports has a lot of hard skills where the youth learn how to handle firearms safely and are exposed to the different disciplines associated with shooting sports,” she said. “The soft skills are how they are learning how to communicate effectively, setting goals and making the adjustments as needed.”

She said the clubs allow youth to meet others through the course of the year and that these different clubs build confidence and character.

While COVID-19 has affected in-person activities, she said by the end of the year, the hope is there will be in-person contact. “In a virtual world, it is difficult for them to learn, because it does not allow for the hands-on and experiential learning,” she said.

There are a plethora of unique clubs and opportunities in 4-H for youth where they can work on achieving their goals. Adult volunteers can join in on the fun, too. They receive training on how to work in these different areas the club offers and can be instructors for them or judges for various competitions.

Ole Virginia Hams

Ole Virginia Hams is a local amateur radio club, founded in 1958 and today has 140 active members. You may have heard of the radio amateurs, or “hams,” whose hobby lets them communicate all the way around the world using shortwave signals — not the internet or cellular infrastructure. Members all share the desire to serve the community, improve their technical knowledge and enjoy the fellowship of like-minded people at club events.

The OVHs use their skills to give back to the community in many ways. They provide critical emergency communications during disasters until regular services are restored. Members actively participate in FEMA and American Red Cross emergency preparedness drills and similar programs held within Prince William County and surrounding areas. And the Ole Virginia Hams also support nonprofit events by providing
public-service communication, gathering toys for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program and supporting students via their annual scholarship.

“This year, during some house cleaning of inventory, there were several laptop computers the club no longer needed. Through one of our club members, Ken Brant (KN4DD), we were able to donate 11 laptops to Gracing Spaces, where they were distributed to families who need them in this year’s virtual classroom sessions,” said President Jay Moore.

The club holds monthly meetings in Manassas. Each meeting features presentations discussing a technological aspect of the hobby or information about an upcoming event or activity. Members share their latest projects, as well. OVH is still holding monthly meetings, though they have been held virtually since
April.

“Most of OVH’s activities have been impacted by the pandemic,” said Moore. “But we did provide radio
communication support for the Serve Our Willing Warriors Bike Ride on Sept. 26. This event consisted of three different length bike rides through Prince William and Loudon counties. OVH members and other ham operators from the local ARES group were on the course, keeping watch and reporting on the status of
riders and any emergencies that occurred.”

They were also able to hold an exam session for potential licensees recently.

“This was an outdoor exam session held at Nokesville Park under one of the pavilions. In addition to both examinees and examiners wearing masks, all involved maintained proper social distancing guidelines, and we were able to get several more people licensed,” said Moore.

Moore notes that there are many benefits of being a club member — social, service and educational.

“While we are always ready and willing to assist with communications, there is also a large social aspect to the club. We’re all bound by this common thread of our love of radio and our love of helping the community,” Moore said.

To learn more about the Ole Virginia Hams, or amateur radio in general, visit their website at w4ovh.net. Read the blog, find meeting dates and get information about classes. Meetings are free and open to the public. The club continues to grow, even during the pandemic, and always welcomes new, old and perspective members.

Guild Gaming

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Local gamers playing Warhammer 40k, a popular miniatures game.

Guild Gaming, owned by Martin Salvi and Charlie Tung, is a mixture of a retail store and social club with collectible card games, miniatures, board games and accessories to accompany games. While not titled an official club, people can come in and browse the games, then take advantage of their available play space.

“We offer a wide array of collectible card games like Pokemon, Magic: The Gathering, plus miniature games like Warhammer or Star Wars X-Wing,” he said. “We also have a large selection of Dungeon and Dragons merchandise, board games and accessories to go with these games.”

Salvi said the games and space appeal to people of all ages.

“Many younger people like to collect and play our card games; some are as young as 6 or 7. The majority are teens and young adults up to about 30 or so,” Salvi said.

He explained the strategy games the store sells appeal to a more mature audience. He said this crowd is usually a bit older, ages 20 to 40 and up.

What makes Guild Gaming different from traditional retail stores is they offer a play space where people can stay to play or meet up and talk to like-minded folks.

“This is our mission at Guild Gaming – to build a friendly community where all are welcome to play and make friends,” Salvi said. “While some people come in and pick up the latest release of their favorite game and go right home with it, many will hangout for hours to play, to learn and make friends.”

The store offers nearly daily events. During the week, events are held in the early evening, and on the weekends, they are in the afternoon. Events are friendly and casual and allow friends to congregate. While there is a competitive element, most people are there to build their skills.

“It’s a social event where people enjoy themselves casually. We also hold monthly tournaments that are a bit bigger and are more competitive, and people will come in from all over to compete,” Salvi said.

Due to the pandemic, Guild Gaming is hosting a limited number of events currently. Salvi said he understands many people are wary of coming together in groups during the pandemic, but changes have been made in response to COVID.

“We have suspended organized play for the time being,” he said. “People are free to come use our space and meet up with friends they are comfortable with.”

Salvi noted that for those who already play but don’t have a community that plays their favorite game, they link that individual to welcoming people and groups. Guild Gaming is currently located at Potomac Mills, having recently moved from Woodbridge.

For more information on Guild Gaming, follow them on Facebook (@ggwoodbridge).

Erin Pittman is Editor in Chief of Prince William Living. She loves reading, writing, time with her family and snuggling all the dogs. She can be reached at [email protected]. Katrina Wilson ([email protected]) calls herself a Carolina girl, because she was born and raised in South Carolina
and is still learning Northern Virginia. Writing is her outlet; she has two published books.

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