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.
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.
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.
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.
Succulent garden at entry of NSA-PC Youth Center
In September 2018, Ms. Bettina started the 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC in Panama City, Florida. She had big plans for the garden and couldn’t wait to get started. These Navy youth, led by a caring adult staff member, started their 4-H journey. Then Hurricane Michael came, which devastated the area on October 10, 2018 and could have easily derailed all of their plans. Instead, the storm allowed youth to start with a clean slate and a renewed sense of vigor in rebuilding the garden at the NSA-PC Youth Center. The youth redesigned some of their beds using debris from the storm.
When the Youth Center reopened following the storm, most of the outdoor areas were off limits to the kids due to damage from the storm. That meant that the playground and other outdoor activities were not available. However, the 4-H Garden Club was allowed to function and allowed the youth itching to be outside and yearning for a way to cope with the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael to come together as a team and, along with Ms. Bettina, a garden to restore a sense of balance and ownership.
Whimsical garden bed designed by NSA-PC youth
The kids were eager to get started planning, implementing, and maintaining the new garden area. They created a plan for different types of gardens within their facility spaces. They researched which plants were best suited for the season and zone as well as which flowers would attract pollinators, because they hoped to see hummingbirds and butterflies. Ms. Bettina says that the kids came in every day asking if they were going to get to work in the garden. It created a healthy, active, and creative outlet for all involved. Soon the garden began to take shape with imaginative details and originality everywhere you looked.
All visitors to the Youth Center are welcomed by exquisitely maintained flower beds that surround the entrance to the building. The youth have created and maintained a beautiful area that enhances the building and greets visitors with beauty and color. These raised gardens are filled with hardy greenery as well as seasonal color and elevated containers that hold a cascade of many varieties of succulents.
NSA-PC youth recycled old materials to create a new space to hold their flowers.
The 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC is a perfect example of how sometimes a storm that seemingly derails plans actually presents an opportunity for growth, learning, and creating something more beautiful. Ms. Bettina’s 4-H Garden Club could not have come at a more perfect time. The gardening activities allow the youth to get outdoors while learning about different types of plants and how to care for them. Many students initially joined the Garden Club to get outside after the storm due to the playground closure. Youth participating in the 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC have learned about more than just the science of plants; they are learning to work as a team with improved communication skills in order to continue maintaining their garden as well as environmental awareness and recycling by taking used items to make new treasures for their flower beds.
4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interests while being guided by adult volunteers. If you would like to learn more about 4-H programming in your local area, or how to get involved as a 4-H volunteer, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.
For more tips and ideas to help build your personal garden, visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ as there are many documents available to help build your personal gardens.
This article was written by Jennifer Sims and Paula Davis.
Santa Rosa 4-H member, Private 1st Class Wolf, serves his country in the United States Army.
Receiving an official title can be very exciting for a new employee. Santa Rosa County 4-H member, Payton Wolfe has a new title and he hasn’t even graduated from high school yet. His new title is now Private 1st Class Wolfe. You see, Payton is serving the United States of America in the Army. Wolfe completed his Basic Combat Training during the summer between his Junior and Senior years of high school. He has officially been in the Army for quite some time now.
Payton Wolfe has a love of animal husbandry and has hatched over 5,000 eggs throughout his high school career. During his many years in 4-H, he has raised numerous types of poultry including quail, chickens, pheasants, turkeys and ducks. “I even had a couple of cows, but they were really just for pets, I never showed them,” Payton explained.
Along with animals, Payton has learned to have a heart of service for a long time. He has completed over 300 hours of community service while in Santa Rosa County 4-H. He has served his club as an officer, his community in service projects whenever needed, and now Payton will serve his country in the United States Army for six years. Enrolling in the Army Veterinarian Specialist program seemed like a natural fit for him. He will be helping care for bomb dogs and horses. Thank you for your dedication and service to our country Private First Class Wolfe!
We are proud that Payton is using the skills he learned as a member of 4-H to protect our country and are excited to see how he will continue to serve his world in the years to come. To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as leadership, independence, and goal setting to your children so that they will grow up to become successful members of society and have a heart of service like Payton, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office, or follow us on Facebook.
Have you ever had one of those kids in your life that just towered over you? You know, the kid in your 4-H club, the student in your classroom, or maybe your next door neighbor’s child that just grew every year and made you feel like you were not eating your Wheaties enough. He would be the one that, if you had to have a talk with him, you have to stand on a chair with your tip toes to look eye level, yet he would be just as mild mannered as a teddy bear. He is the youth whose laugh is contagious and his presence fills the entire room. Well, Holmes County 4-H has one of those gentle giants in our midst, Jamin Marks, and I assure you, he is going to be missed in our 4-H family!
Jamin Marks, Holmes County 4-H Member and graduating Senior.
Recently, I went to a local K-8 grade school to recruit new campers for our 4-H Camp Timpoochee summer camping program. While speaking to some students, they initially acted like they might be “too cool” for summer camp. I realized I needed to change my approach of introducing 4-H summer camp to this audience so I stopped mid-sentence into my introduction and simply asked them who knew Jamin Marks, the graduating senior football player from our community. Almost all of the student body raised their hands and I heard quite a few kids throwing out comments such as “he is so cool,” and “Jamin’s my man.” I then asked how many knew that Jamin was a 4-Her and has been to 4-H Camp Timpoochee almost every year since he was 8 years old. Some hands went down, then gasps, and then a rumble started to occur. Finally, I told the group that this was Jamin’s last year at camp and then asked who wanted to sign up for 4-H Camp Timpoochee this year. Every hand in the room shot straight to the ceiling! I knew this was the way to reach my audience because I knew that Jamin has been such a profound impact in the community for many of these younger kids without him even realizing it. That is Jamin, our gentle giant with a giant impact that has made a lasting impression for years to come.
Jamin as a camper in 2014.
Jamin began his 4-H journey by participating in 4-H summer camp at Camp Timpoochee as a camper. Then, in the summer of 2016, Jamin excelled in the role of counselor. He used his gentle gift of humor to ease the fears of new campers, create a sense of belonging, and lighten the mood if tensions were high after a long day of fun and sun. In addition, Jamin began using his leadership skills to help his peers understand the effects of bullying. It did not take long for Jamin to become one of the most requested counselors at summer camp every year. That is our Jamin, our gentle giant, creating a safe environment for every child to feel included.
Jamin believes that being involved in Holmes County 4-H is like being part of a big family and his reference to me as “Mama Niki” tells me where I rate in his circle. His expression of gratitude to all of the 4-H volunteers for their support over the years generates a huge thanks and expressive hug. And, as we conclude the interview for my blog, Jamin can’t help himself. He ends it with, “Mama Niki, you know I am going to become a 4-H volunteer, so I can come back to camp every year and help you with your campers.” I just end the conversation with a huge smile. That is our Jamin, always our gentle giant.
To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, organizational skills, and goal setting, to your children or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office, or follow us on Facebook.
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 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 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!
Yes, 4-University is 4 U! 4-H University is one of the premiere state events in Florida 4-H. Teens get the chance to participate in leadership workshops, explore career opportunities, interact with other 4-Hers from across the state, and have fun while learning how to better successfully engage in their community, country, and world. Below you will find useful information as well as why you should attend this flagship state 4-H event.
2018 Gadsden County 4-H University Delegation
- Fun: We like all things we sign up for to be fun but sometimes they turn out not to be. We assure you, this IS a FUN event.
- Network: Connect with like-minded teens from across Florida.
- Focused learning: Subject matter focused workshops offered are interesting and engaging.
- Explore: Visit an awesome college campus! There are many things to see and do at UF. It is your chance to visit a college campus.
- Dorms: Sleep in a college dorm. Yes, you and your roomies get a little taste of future dorm life.
- Leadership: True leaders know that leadership and learning is an on-going process.
- Service Learning: Giving back to others feels good. Fresh ideas keep us focused and committed.
- Goal Setting: Goals help us to expand our visions. 4-H U helps you set some goals for the future.
- Being Supportive: Fellow attendees are competitors and/or candidates running for State 4-H Officers we want to support.
- Fun: Yes, I mentioned this twice! My Gadsden County 4-H senior youth have enjoyed 4-H U for many years for all the reasons above. They stress FUN twice!
IMPORTANT REGISTRATION INFORMATION
Dates: July 29-August 1, 2019 (multi-day overnight state 4-H event)
Location: University of Florida, Gainesville
Who: Youth who are 4-H age 14-18
Registration: Opens on May 1 and closes June 30 at 11:59 pm Eastern. The cost is $275.00 for full week. Special one-day only registrations are available. Check out the website for more information.
How: Contact your local 4-H office
Learning opportunities: You do not want to be late registering so that you can have a better chance of getting your choice of track workshop: http://florida4h.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/4HU_2018_Workshop_Descriptions.pdf
More information: For more information, please visit this http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/4-h-university/
CALL TO ACTION:
- Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office
- Begin the journey as a 4-H Member
- Engage in local programs as well as district and state: http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/
- Read and share the other great 4-H In The Panhandle blogs by my colleagues
- Follow us on Facebook