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Making friends at 4-H Camp in the early 1990’s (Melanie Taylor, Gulf County 4-H Agent, on right)

4-H Summer Camp preparations are in full swing all over the state. As a 4-H agent preparing for our week of county  4-H camp, my days are busy with phone calls and emails from parents, teen counselor training, adult volunteer screenings, paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork. Although it’s busy time for me as a 4-H agent, it also allows me to reflect why I chose this career path and why there is a sense of nostalgia as I prepare for 4-H camp.

Camp Memories

I grew up in Virginia and attended 4-H camp every year from age 9-18.  I was a camper that grew into a counselor-in-training and then a full-fledged counselor. Those weeks of 4-H camp were filled with hot days and warm nights, but it was worth it all for the memories I’ll have for a lifetime.  I can still smell the cafeteria food and hear the sounds in the gymnasium as kids played basketball and pounded at their leather-craft projects. I still get the chills when I think about our entire camp singing around the campfire circle and patiently waiting for a canoe, filled with camp staff, to land on the lakes edge.  The staff would enter the campfire circle carrying the flame and ceremoniously light the fire.  I’m still connected with my 4-H camp friends through social media and/or as close friends, and we continue to share our old, blurry camp pictures from the 1990’s each year on Facebook.

4-H Flag raised

Memories to Last a Lifetime…

This is why I work hard to prepare camp for my county campers and teen counselors – I want to create similar memories for them. In 10, 20 or 30 years from now, I want them to think back on the fun moments they experienced in the Florida 4-H camping program. I want them to form friendships and make camp connections for a lifetime, whether it’s learning to kayak, fish, making arts and crafts, cooking over a campfire, singing camp songs and much more.

With all of this said, I hope you as parents will consider giving your child(ren) these special moments.  The days are long, but fun, and nights are filled with campfires and hanging out with friends. When they arrive home on Friday, they’ll be exhausted but so excited to share all of the camp songs with you (prepare yourself for lots of loud, enthusiastic singing).  They’ll have new friends they want you to meet and tell you camp stories they’ll always cherish.

When is Your County Camping?

In northwest Florida, there are two 4-H Camps:
4-H Camp Timpoochee in Niceville and 4-H Camp Cherry Lake in Madison.
Each county in these camping districts has one week of camp each summer.  Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office now
to find out the details and register your child for a week of fun and memories!

Melanie Taylor

Extension Agent III, 4-H Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences, UF/IFAS Gulf County Extension, Focus areas include youth and volunteer development, 4-H life skills, healthy living, nutrition and food safety. Bachelor's degree in Education from Radford University. Master of Science in Education degree in Career and Technical Education from Virginia Tech.
http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu

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