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4-H Camp changes kids for life

April 25, 2012

Staff Report

If you are still in the market for the perfect activity for your child this summer, consider 4-H Camp! 4-H Camp at Camp White Eagle in Leaf River, Ill., will be held June 11-15, 2012, and is open to all youth ages 8-14. 4-H Camp offers youth a blend of social, recreational and leadership activities in an environment where the bar is high when it comes to safety, caring, fun and experiences for campers.

4-H Camp allows youth a unique away-from-home experience that lets them test their independence, try new activities not available in their everyday lives, and closely interact with peers that are outside the circle of contact in their local community. Campers get to choose the activities they will participate in while at camp. These activities are designed to allow campers to challenge themselves creatively, mentally and physically.

Activities include swimming, canoeing, river walks, nature studies, arts and crafts, team challenges, hiking, shooting sports, fishing, rock climbing, bicycling and more. “In some cases,” says Kim Christman, 4-H Youth Development Educator for University of Illinois Extension and Soul 4-H Camp Week staff member at Camp White Eagle, “we even have highly specialized workshop opportunities for campers in areas such as GPS and aquatic creature studies. All of our camp activities are led by trained, qualified camp staff or volunteers.”

4-H Camp is more than one week of fun away from the parents; it is a place where they will create memories that will last a lifetime. 4-H Camp teaches youth to make good decisions, have higher self-confidence, become independent, and gain the ability to work well with others. These are skills that will help youth become strong adult leaders. Additionally, 4-H Camp alumni have a great appreciation for camp and value volunteerism. Many 4-H Camp alumni devote much of their personal time to ensure that the campers have the same great experience they did.

“4-H Camp changes a child’s life,” Christman said. “Five days and four nights without their parents is a true growth experience. Youth learn to do things for themselves that Mom and Dad normally do for them. But no worries, we have 30 excellent, trained camp counselors that step in for Mom and Dad and remind the kids to shower and brush their teeth!”

Camp counselors go through a rigorous selection process, train for six months before camp, and learn skills that will help them provide the safety, care, fun and adventure that campers and parents expect. The camp counselor program provides young adults the chance to return to camp, reconnect with old camp friends, and learn skills that will guide them to future careers. Christman has seen many young adults enter the counseling program as shy, insecure followers, and emerge as strong, confident leaders. Camp counseling is an amazing journey of growth, too.

A study conducted in 2008 by SOul 4-H Camp staff with both counselors and counselor alumni indicated that the top five skills counselors develop as a result of their training and on-the-job experiences are: 1) to act as leaders by setting the example; 2) to be responsible for the care of children; 3) to work with others as a team; 4) to make real lifelong friends; and 5) the importance of being prepared.

4-H SOul Camp is accepting campers now; give your child the experience and memories of a lifetime. 4-H membership is not required. For information about 4-H Camp, contact University of Illinois Extension, 4-H Youth staff at (815) 235-4125 or visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/bdo/4hwhiteeagle.

From the April 25-May 1, 2012, issue

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