4-H’ers enjoy “Race to Which Camp!” at Tri-County Junior 4-H Camp
Forty fourth-sixth grade 4-H’ers and 11 teen counselors from Boone, Marshall, Hardin and Story counties participated in the annual Tri-County Junior 4-H Camp, Aug. 5-7, at the Iowa 4-H Center near Madrid. The camp was directed by Annette Brown, ISU Extension and Outreach Region 8 4-H youth development specialist. Campers were involved in many “Race to Which Camp” theme-based activities led by teen counselors, camp-based activities led by 4-H Center staff and special environmental activities by volunteers.
Research has shown that free play in nature increases children’s cognitive flexibility, emotional capacity, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity, use of imagination, self-esteem and self-discipline. It makes them smarter, more cooperative, happier and healthier. Peg L. Smith, American Camp Association’s® (ACA’s) chief executive officer says, in her article “The Case for Camp — Why Kids Need It Now More Than Ever,” “We’ve been so concentrated on the brain, we forget about the rest of our bodies. This change in focus has led to an obesity rate that is unacceptable. Our kids are not as healthy as the generation before. Families used to live in a community. We’ve lost that, keeping kids inside and losing a sense of neighborhood. Add to that the fact that our kids stand to inherit all the economic, social and environmental challenges we’ve created, and the legacy we have left our children and youth begins to look bleak. So, how do we prepare our children with the skills and more importantly, the competencies they will need to tackle changes in our world? We could start with a positive camp experience. A quality camp experience provides our children with the opportunity to learn powerful lessons in community, character-building, skill development and healthy living — a meaningful, engaged, and participatory environment … simply put, camp changes lives.”
Tri-County 4-H campers started their positive camp experiences with get-acquainted activities and team-building elements at the team’s course to develop a sense of belonging and community. The 4-H Center activities led by camp staff provided physical exercise in the forms of canoeing, creek walking, a night hike, swimming, archery, atlatls, climbing tower, mega zip-line, Gaga ball and lots of walking. Environmental activities taught youth about using the five senses to experience nature, being green by making what we need from plants and building shelters and fires for outdoor survival. Youth used art skills in designing paintings with nature materials incorporated into them. Some campers participated in martial arts and some in theatre arts sessions. Campers learned about animals and vision on a night hike. Races and games for “Race to Which Camp!” led by counselors, provided an evening of outdoor challenges.
Annual traditions for the camp included campers preparing one breakfast and one campfire meal. This year’s campfire meal taught campers how to use pie irons to make sandwiches, how to use Dutch ovens to prepare cheesy potatoes and making brownies in oranges. The camp was culminated with 135 family members participating in a barbecue meal and closing campfire, at which camp songs and S’mores were enjoyed by everyone. Campers, counselors and adults were presented with recognition certificates for something unique related to a quality or something he or she accomplished at camp.
Campers reported on the their evaluations that they learned to try new things, teamwork skills, trusting others, being respectful, to keep on trying when something is difficult, making new friends and having lots of fun. They learned skills that they can use for a lifetime, such as new camp songs, outdoor survival skills, campfire cooking skills, enjoying nature, teamwork skills and specific activity skills.
Many people make the Tri-County Junior 4-H Camp possible. In addition to Brown’s leadership, Rachael Siebens of Ames, Chanae Fitzgerald – AmeriCorps member for Story County Extension and Outreach, Kenton Reece of Boone and Chip Wisecup of Ogden served as adult volunteers throughout camp. Rachael Siebens, a naturalist, taught an environmental activity, Natalie Hedlund, Boone County 4-H youth coordinator, and Siebens led the creek walk and night hike. County extension staff from Marshall and Story counties, Mary Wilkins, Caleb Carver and Jessie Soderstrum, took turns assisting throughout the week. Parents and teen volunteers helped prepare the closing family meal.
Senior level 4-H members Josie Consier, Michaela Ostendorf, Bryce and Vanessa Scott, Breanna Sterenberg, Braeden Weyhrich, Jaydon Williams and Colton Zalesak from Boone County; Haley Lawrence from Hardin County and Justine and Lauren Rosburg from Story County volunteered as teen counselors. Their leadership skills helped campers belong, experience new camp opportunities, learn camp songs and have fun in a safe environment.
Boone County campers were Abby Brause, Erica Bruns, Jake Carter, Jacie Flockhart, Stephen Flynn, Asher Heckman, Hannah Heckman, Karli Herrstrom, Lane Longhorn, Kylie Mackie, Logan Ozmum, Jacob Samuelson, Alanna Schroeder, Kaleb Scott, Nate Scott, Taylor Tanke, Chaz Warson, Warren Wellington, McKenya Williams, Alex Wilson, Justin Wilson, Hunter Wisecup, Brady Zalesak. Hardin County campers were Colton McDonald, Kynna McDonald, Nathan Miller, Cole Williamson. Marshall County campers were Maeve Jannssen and J.J. McManus. Story County campers were Zak Buffington, Jack Chism, Paige Handsaker, Austin Kruzich, Allie Kruzich, Ben Melody, Reese Rosburg, Alec Sernett, McKinley Spaid, McKayla Spaid and Ella Toot.
Information about becoming a 4-H member or a volunteer is available at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach office in each county. Visit your county’s web page to learn more at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/content/county-offices.