Select Page
Breaking Norms and Building Youth through 4-H Camping

Breaking Norms and Building Youth through 4-H Camping

Five boys appear happy together at camp.

Campers make lasting friendships at camp.

4-H camp week is the sacred week of the summer that many youth look forward to every year.  The 4-H residential camping program features a week-long, overnight stay at one of the various 4-H camps in Florida (Timpoochee, Cherry Lake, Cloverleaf) and is generally shared with at least one other county.  During this week, youth venture out with their peers and explore their environment through a wealth of activities ranging from snorkeling, kayaking, shooting sports, crafts, creative dramatics, aquatic sciences, STEM, and so much more!  Laced within the camp program of activities are life skills these youth may acquire and build on throughout their lives such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, empathy for others, and confidence to name a few.

Large group of youth and adults outside at 4-H camp, all wearing blue shirts .

Holmes and Walton counties at Camp Timpoochee, June 10-14, 2019.

Walton and Holmes counties camped at 4-H Camp Timpoochee June 10-14, 2019.  Amongst record setting numbers for each county’s camp history, the Agents also observed many opportunities for growth in their campers and counselors.  One specifically was a male camper who initially seemed to have difficulty adjusting to camp life.  He is an only child, had never stayed away from home and thus, prior to camp, had set a day limit for himself because he was so anxious.  Once the counselor noticed his camper’s struggle, he immediately began working with his fellow counselor team to devise a plan tailor made for his camper to ensure he felt a sense of belonging and stayed at camp all week.  By day two, the camper’s attitude toward camp life had flipped from negative to positive and he even shared with his parents, “Camp is awesome!  Please don’t come pick me up yet.  I’m having so much fun!”  Within another day’s time, the male counselor team had this camper (and nearly all other boy campers), motivated to hold the door for others simply by turning it into a game of “pass it on,” the door that is.  It was truly a sight for the Agents to see their counselor team solving problems cooperatively for the benefit of the camp family and building confidence in their campers.

A group of girls celebrating a win after an outdoor game at 4-H camp.

Cabin teamwork conquers Organized Mass Chaos!

Counselors are the front lines during county camp week.  They are the leadership within the cabins and group activities alongside camping staff.  These teens are trained by their 4-H Agents for a minimum of 6 hours prior to camp to prepare them to handle various situations.  Each teen comes with their own set of skills and their own “treasure chest” of problem-solving abilities they contribute to the counselor team each year.  This camping season, one female counselor capitalized on her training and created an actual “treasure chest” for her campers within her cabin.  She utilized this as a positive reinforcement strategy where her campers could win coins for doing great things throughout the week.  The campers then could turn in their coins to gain a treasure from the chest!  Within this cabin, this strategy worked wonders to motivate the girl campers to keep their cabin clean, sing together for meals, show appropriate behaviors throughout camp, and participate in all activities. 

 

A camp counselor walking with his camper on a dock, at 4-H camp.

Serving by leading others.

Often times camp is described as “the safe place,” a place where youth can come to drop the stereotypes, drop the stressors of home life or school life, and just be themselves.  While 4-H Agents, 4-H Camp Directors and staff are the adult leaders, these campers and counselors teach us lessons daily during county camp week that we store in our own “treasure chests” for the next camping season to make our best years even BETTER!

For more information on how your family can participate in 4-H, find your local UF IFAS Extension Office and contact your 4-H Agent to explore what programs are offered in your area.

Graduating Seniors Breaking Barriers

Graduation is that bitter sweet moment of finally closing the high school chapter of life and diving into adulthood.  Involvement with 4-H can help ease this transition for many young adults.  4-H teaches youth life skills through positive youth development opportunities.  These opportunities allow them to navigate the world through experiential learning, the “learn by doing” approach, so they may develop skills to rely on for many years after their time spent in 4-H.  Two Walton County 4-H’ers are preparing to do just that, but it hasn’t always been an “easy row to hoe.”

JACKSON LEATH

Jackson receiving his annual Clover Award

Jackson Leath started his journey in Walton County 4-H at age eight.  He was involved in local clubs and even traveled to Washington D.C. and summer camp.  However, after several battles with anxiety, Jackson took a break from 4-H for many years.  In 2015, he decided to try out the Walton County Teen Council Club with a few friends.  This led him to volunteering at day camps, leading group recreation with campers, and ultimately becoming a Junior Counselor for summer camp!  Jackson overcame many hurdles along the way but regained his confidence and independence so greatly that it fueled his passion for leadership and service to others.  

 

Jackson’s goal has always been, “to show kids that 4-H is fun and to give them the memories I’ve had here.”  After conquering any fear or doubts, Jackson has been active in multiple community clubs, has been a Camp Timpoochee Camp Counselor for 4 years, volunteered at numerous day camps, and held multiple offices on the county level.  Jackson’s confidence has also led him to accomplishments at school which include Captain of the soccer team and officer positions in various clubs.  

CHEYENNE DUNCAN

Cheyenne competing at State Tailgating competition

Cheyenne Duncan moved to the Florida Panhandle in 2014.  Within her freshman year of high school, Cheyenne battled bullying, abusive relationships, and depression.  Through her involvement with 4-H and becoming a Junior Camp Counselor to “try camp,” (as an effort from her mother and 4-H Agent to turn negatives into positives), Cheyenne blossomed!  During a heartfelt conversation on a Camp Timpoochee bench, Cheyenne shared with her 4-H Agent that “this 4-H stuff really works!”  Cheyenne not only conquered her adversaries, but she also became driven to share her story with others in 4-H, the community, and the State to help other teens that may be facing the same battles.  Cheyenne has led many community clubs in all offices, competed at County Events, shown livestock in the local Fair, volunteered countless hours during day camps and will be serving her 5th year as a Camp Timpoochee Camp Counselor.  Her champion spirit has also led her to complete the following in school:  2 years as Soccer Team Captain, 1 year assistant coach for spring soccer, multiple years dedicated to soccer, track and cross country along with 4 years of Jr ROTC and Drill with the accompanying ribbons to match!

Furthermore, not only have both Jackson and Cheyenne displayed what #TRUELEADERS are in 4-H and school extracurricular activities, but both are successfully working multiple jobs in the workforce as well!  Through their experiential learning, both have seen many times of great achievement and possibly a few failures; however, 4-H provided a safe place for our youth to experience failure, learn from it, and ultimately Make the Best Better. 

To get more involved in 4-H, find your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and ask your County 4-H Agent how to join!

Let the Hunt Begin:  Hunter Safety and 4-H Shooting Sports

While this year’s hunting season is winding up, it’s never too early to think about getting ready for next year.  Whether it’s deer, squirrel, ducks, dove or turkey, there are important hunting rules and guidelines both youth and adults must follow.  Organizations like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and your local UF/IFAS Extension Office provide programs to keep you on target each hunting season!

Youth with shotgun on shooting range.

Safety is a key element of any shooting sport.

SAFETY FIRST
Each hunter must take some version of the Hunters Safety Education course.  Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, and 16 years or older, must pass a hunter safety course before a hunting license can be purchased.  There are four options to complete this requirement:

  1. Traditional Course and Skills Day
    – Face-to-face instructor led course
    – Hands-on skill day – register here
  2. Online Course and Skills Day (two part process)
    – Complete one of the online courses
    – Hands on skill day – register here
  3.  Florida Virtual School Outdoor Education
    – FREE to Florida students in grades 9-12 or ages 12-18
    – Apply here
    – Earn 0.5 credit for high school
  4. Firearms Safety Certification and Online Course
    – Adults only
    – Must have completed previous firearms training
    – Must complete one of the online classes in Option 2
    – Follow procedures outlined in the Application for Hunter Safety Certification

If you’re using the Hunter Safety Mentoring Exemption and hunting under the supervision of a qualified hunter, you are exempt from this requirement.  

Map of Florida showing hunting zones

Our district covers Zone D – Escambia to Gadsden/Wakulla & Zone C – Leon & Jefferson.  Map courtesy of FWC.

Find Your Zone
Hunters should strive to be good stewards of Florida’s resources to keep this sport a tradition for generations to come. Take the time to determine what hunting zone you live in.  Your zone determines your hunting season – meaning the appropriate time you can collect specific game in that area.  You can find the Florida Hunting Zones Map here:  http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates/zone-map/.  Next,  check the annually updated hunting season dates and bag limits related to your zone to stay in compliance with FWC regulations:  http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates.

4-H Shooting Sports
Find your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and determine if there is a 4-H Shooting Sports program in your county.  Participation in a 4-H Shooting Sport program provides year-round opportunities for youth to not only practice their discipline but also to explore other disciplines in a safe, inclusive, environment with 4-H volunteers/mentors!

Group of 4-H youth on shooting range.

4-H grows important life skills like responsibility, goal setting and teamwork in youth through shooting sports.

4-H Shooting Sports includes air rifle, small bore rifle, archery, shotgun, muzzleloading and hunting and develops important life skills in a safe and educational environment.  Shooting sports day camps are popular during the summer, so ask you 4-H Agent if one will be scheduled for you county.

Attention Volunteers!
Would you like to become become 4-H Level 1 Certified to coach and teach youth shooting sports?  If you are already enrolled as a 4-H volunteer, log in to your profile and register for the February 16th hands-on training in shotgun and archery.  You’ll also complete five online learning modules as part of your training.  If you’re new to 4-H, enroll at florida.4honline.com, and let your county 4-H Agent know that you are interested in teaching shooting sports.

Explore the links below to see how you and your youth can get involved in 4-H and stay up to date on the hunting regulations for your area:

It’s Fair Season – a Family Guide to Fair Exhibits

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/103653228896801425/

It’s that time of year again – Fair Season!  

I can just smell the delicious scents of midway foods and see and hear the lights and squeals on carnival rides?  But to most 4-H families, fairs go way beyond food and rides.  During fair season, youth throughout the state dress up with pride in their 4-H green attire and prepare for what’s to come…fair exhibits!

Fair exhibits can range from artwork to plants to animals and finally, the epic fair booths. The most important thing for youth and adult exhibitors is knowing:

1. What counties are allowed to participate?

2. What and how many categories you may enter?

3. Exhibit requirements.

Here, we’ll cover preparing for fair booths and animal exhibits but you can find multiple links below for the state and local fairs with more information on exhibit entries and requirements.

FAIR3

Fair booths are the highlight of displays at the fair

Organizations, like 4-H, use fair booths to visually communicate what we offer.  Fair booths can be a great way to create a sense of Belonging in your club by having all members feel like they’re part of the 4-H Family!  You want your communication to be effective, so prepare a checklist:

  1. Research the fair you want to enter – determine the deadline and registration requirements.
  2. Will you earn a booth premium?  If so, figure out how much your club is willing to spend on supplies based on the premium could receive.
  3. Determine the size of your booth. Going out of booth boundaries can be a point deficit on the scorecard.
  4. Pick your booth theme and layout.
  5. Get commitments from members and parents to help with preparation, setup and breakdown.  Delegate tasks so everyone feels like they have contributed.

Check out Exhibits and Displays” below for a full checklist and more information!

Fair1

4-H’er talking to the judge of the Rabbit Show at Walton County Fair.

4-H Animal Exhibits

Rabbit, chicken, cattle, swine and goat exhibits are staples of fair week.  Animal exhibits give many people the opportunity to see, learn about and interact with animals they don’t normally come across.  For our 4-H youth, livestock exhibits and shows give youth the ability to gain Mastery through 4-H Project Learning. These highly experiential experiences teach youth a multitude of life skills.  To get your animals fair ready:

  1. Research the fair’s deadlines and registration. Be sure to check deadlines for acquiring ownership and birth-dates of your animals.
  2. Check the vaccination and health certificate requirements for your animal and secure an appointment with a veterinarian to have this completed.
  3. Be on time or early to check-in. Sometimes, there is only one Agriculture Inspector and a long line of exhibitors. Some animals are required to do on-site blood testing, so be prepared with your paperwork and be patient.
  4. Determine if the fair provides the food and bedding and if exhibitors are required to care for their animals daily. This is not only important for the nutritional well-being of your animal but also for their emotional well-being.

Helpful Links:

Florida Panhandle Fair Opportunities:

If you’re a fair veteran, 4-H alumni, or just someone interested in benefiting the youth of your community, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office to find out how you can become a 4-H Volunteer and share your expertise!

4-H Beyond Graduation Day

4-H Beyond Graduation Day

Graduation has come and gone for our newest 4-H Alumni who are beginning their journeys in college, technical school or the workforce.  Our 4-H Seniors have given so much to their county, district and state programs over their years of service.  Here are a few ways to make sure your Senior gets all he/she can from their Senior year in 4-H and beyond:

Final 4-H Event

4-H University –  July 30-August 2nd

http://4huniversity.com/

Florida 4-H University is a week-long overnight event for young adults held at the University of Florida. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in educational workshops led by University of Florida faculty, explore career opportunities, lead community service activities, interact with youth from all over the state, and have fun while developing critical life skills that will help them become productive and engaged citizens in their communities, their country, and their world.

To be considered eligible for participation in Florida 4-H University, participants must be between the ages of 14 – 18 by September 1st of the previous year and must not have graduated high school.  Late registration closes June 8th.

Camp Staff

Were you a 4-H camper?  Then consider coming back as staff next 4-H camp year.  Our 4-H residential camps are always looking for dedicated applicants with youth and youth program experience.

http://florida4h.org/camps_/jobs/summer-camp-staff-application/

Volunteer with 4-H

Now that you’ve made the transition from 4-H member to alumni, check with your 4-H Agent for opportunities to give back to the program that grew you into a #TrueLeader.  If you’ve moved away from your home county, find the 4-H agent where you are to see how you can volunteer.

Other Resources

Collegiate 4-H – http://florida4h.org/youth_/collegiate/  

Volunteer – http://florida4h.org/volunteers_/sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office

Alumni – https://4-h.org/4-h-alumni-community/4-h-alumni-resources/

Find a 4-H Agent – http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/