Ron Jakubisin, 4-H Educator
Summer camp offers an invaluable experience to youth who attend. According to the American Camping Association camp provides children with an opportunity to discover and explore their interests, values, and talents. Camp delivers positive impacts for youth. In Washington County, campers are 3rd grade to 8th grade-aged youth and youth camp counselors (volunteers) are 9th grade and older. Youth attending 4-H camp make new friends, develop stronger bonds with current friends, connect with caring 4H adults, develop new skills, and develop confidence. It is incredibly satisfying to see a timid youth on day one verbalize on the last day of camp how much fun they had, or express that they were nervous being so many days away from home for the first time and they DID it!
Fun is the easiest outcome that youth communicate about camp and that is the most cliché thing adults say too. However, 4-H camp delivers so much more beyond the fun. Youth discover nature and the environment through canoeing and looking at river and pond water through a microscope to learn about microorganisms. Hands-on experiences such as crafts, team-building activities, swimming, and group games provide opportunities for social skill development and confidence building.
Did you know youth can shut off technology? Sounds impossible but at Washington County Summer Camp youth don’t bring their phones! (our volunteers and nurse can get ahold of parents when needed). Camp is totally social without the media! This provides youth the opportunity to be in the ‘here-and-now’ and interact with others during camp projects, group games, meals and at reflection time at evening campfire.
Youth that volunteer as camp counselors have stated in their interviews that they are motivated to be a camp counselor because they experienced camp at a younger age and want to give that great experience to new campers. Youth and adults volunteers give their time and sometimes income (by taking off work) to be a part of camp. They attend training sessions before camp to prepare for activities as well as how to effectively communicate with the different ages of campers. Youth counselors have opportunities to develop and grow as well. They lead activities, mentor young campers during activities such as archery, crafts and swimming. The volunteer counselors are role models for young campers by being organized, enthusiastic and positive, even when unanticipated stressful situations occur like a rainstorm washing out swim time and having to problem-solving indoor activities on-the-fly!Summer camp sure is fun, but the learning opportunities, social interactions and confidence built during a week of camp has a lifelong affect on our campers. To find out more about 4-H camp opportunities open up our 2023 December Cloverline Newsletter here https://washington.extension.wisc.edu/4-h/27504-2/