Studying marine biology. Snow survival skills. Electricity. Wildlife tracking. At camp today, kids enjoy much more than the traditional crafts and canoes experience. 4-H offers a wide range of specialized camping programs all over the country where kids learn leadership, citizenship and life skills while they participate in fun activities.
Shamee Hurd, 14, gets a charge out of learning about safety at 4-H Electric Camp. “I am more aware of my surroundings as a result of 4-H Electric Camp. I learned to stay away from electric lines when they fall on the ground. I do very well in school studying science, especially when we study electricity,” she said.
The camp, held at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, features learning centers and hands-on activities staffed by electric utility professionals. Campers make magnetic motors and discover how electric golf carts work while they learn about safety.
At 4-H Junior Wildlife Stewards Camp in Oregon, youth start their experience in third grade, become counselors-in-training in seventh grade, and teen counselors in grade 10. They work together with other campers and counselors as they participate in classes on the basics of fishing and aquatic habits, wildlife tracking, bird watching, forestry and develop a special hands-on wildlife restoration project.
A counselor for five years, Alice Kersting, 18, of Portland is studying sociology in college because of her experience with cross-age mentoring at camp, where she shared her passion for the outdoors. “The interaction of children, adults and teens coming together and learning from each other is incredibly significant. You can’t get anything out of camp unless you are willing to learn from others,” Kersting said.
Along the North Carolina coast, youth curious about ecology study chemistry, geology and biology at Marine Science and Sailing Camp. They dissect fish, follow the tides and visit estuaries to understand the importance of the environment.
Camp isn’t just for the summer, either. Youth build campfires in the snow, use compasses and GPS units and learn first aid skills at 4-H Snow Camp during the winter in Idaho. “4-H is about teaching kids life skills that they can use wherever they go,” said Cindy Kinder, University of Idaho 4-H and Extension Educator, Camas County.
4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. Learn more about 4-H camping programs at 4husa.org.
Photography is just one of the many specialized 4-H camping programs for youth.