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GaGa…What?

GAGA BALL

If your youth has attended 4-H Camp Timpoochee or Cherry Lake with the UF/IFAS 4-H Camping Program, they’ve had the chance to play GaGa Ball. You’re probably wondering what kind of name is GaGa ball.  It’s not just a made-up name.  GaGa ball has a rich history.  GaGa is translated from Hebrew as “touch-touch”. It’s said to have originated in Israel, and it has become a popular game at camps around the United States. GaGa Ball is a version of dodgeball and is just as fun.

LET’S PLAY!

GaGa ball is not only fun to say, but it is really easy to learn. First, you need a place to play. GaGa ball is played in a GaGa pit. Here’s just one of many articles on how to build your own GaGa Ball Pit.  Next, you need a ball. GaGa balls are not specific, although a heavy duty dodgeball is recommended. The rules of the game vary place to place, but we play by the following rules at 4-H Camp:

  1. You hit the ball with your hands only.
  2. If the ball hits you below the knee, you are out.
  3. If the ball bounces of the wall and hits you below the knee, you’re out.
  4. If you hit the ball out of the pit, you’re out.
  5. If you hit someone in the face, you’re out
  6. If the game is going slowly, the leader can call “Hands-In”.
    Hands in means everyone who is already out can put their hands over the wall of the pit and try to get those still in the pit out.

Rules can be made and altered to fit the group that is playing the game although the first two rules are staples of the game.

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

GaGa ball is a great way to expend extra energy during day camps, but it also is a great way to build and practice life skills. First off, youth are put in situations in every game where they have to practice decision making, discipline, resiliency and many other life skills 4-H strives to instill in our youth. Of course they have to practice their conflict resolution skills as there will inevitably conflicts that arise from their competitive natures. Most importantly, playing GaGa ball helps kids practice a healthy lifestyle.  GaGa ball teaches many important lessons, and is a bunch of fun. So when you hear someone say, “Let’s play GaGa ball!”, give it a try and embrace the challenge.

Learn more about the history of GaGa Ball

 

2017 National Youth Science Day

As part of National 4-H Week, 4-H’ers participate in 4 H National Youth Science Day (NYSD), the world’s largest youth-led science experiment. This year’s 4 H NYSD event will take place on October 4. The 2017 4‑H National Youth Science Day Challenge is called Incredible Wearables!  This year’s challenge was developed by University of Nebraska-Lincoln and incorporates the fast-evolving field of wearable technology, teaching kids to not only use technology but to create it and understand how it works.

From watches and eyewear to fashion and virtual reality headsets, wearable technologies are fast becoming the must-have accessory for forward-thinking people around the world. Wearable technologies didn’t start out as trendy however – one of the world’s first wearable technologies was the hearing aid! Wearable technologies are now used in industries around the globe, from education and sports, to health, fashion, entertainment, transportation and communication. In this year’s challenge, youth use the engineering design process to build a prototype wearable technology that will gather data to help solve a real-world problem. They will design and build their own low-cost wearable health monitor following the engineering design process. This process includes defining the problem, designing and building prototypes (solutions) then systematically testing and evaluating enabling them to redesign for optimization of wearability and functionality.

During the innovative, hands-on project, these future engineers must work together to design, build and refine a wearable health-tracking device that is easy-to-use and aesthetically appealing. In fact, youth from Bay County have been training with their adult leaders to teach this challenge to other youth in their community on National Youth Science Day. Jason Scott, from Scott Innovative Solutions and an engineer at NSA PC, teamed up with the Bay County 4-H Agent to teach youth and adult partner teams about this project enabling them to be able to share their knowledge with others on October 4. When participants will attempt to solve the problem of people not staying active enough to lead healthy lives. In fact, youth will build a prototype fitness tracking device that could ultimately be marketed and sold to consumers to positively affect fitness behaviors.

After completing the challenge youth will have had an experience of using the engineering design process to build a device to help them monitor their health so they can gather data to make better decisions. They will understand more about how wearable technologies like FitBits, Smartwatches and other wearable devices are made.

The field of wearable technologies continues to grow in both quantity and quality. New technologies are being developed and put on the market on a regular basis, including virtual reality and augmented reality devices, clothing and accessories, as well as health monitoring devices. The future of wearable technologies is limited only by the imaginations of those designing them. By studying STEM and participating in this National Youth Science Day Experiment, youth could use technologies to develop products and mechanisms we haven’t even thought of, but definitely desire! To find out more information about other 4-H programs like this or volunteer your time to work with youth, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.

Comparing device to prototype

 

Tips for Healthier Holiday Cooking

Tips for Healthier Holiday Cooking

Holiday MyPlateThe holidays are often filled with time-honored traditions that include some of our favorite meals and foods. As you celebrate, think of little changes you can make this holiday season to create healthier meals and active days. An added bonus, these small changes may help you to avoid those extra holiday pounds we all fear each year. Happy Cooking!

In the Kitchen:
• For gravies or sauces — if you are making pan gravy, first skim the fat off pan drippings. For cream or white sauces, use fat-free (skim) milk and soft tub or liquid margarine.
• For dressings or stuffing — add low-sodium broth or pan drippings with the fat skimmed off instead of lard or butter. Use herbs and spices and a whole grain bread for added flavor.
• For biscuits — use vegetable oil instead of lard or butter and fat-free (skim) milk or 1 percent buttermilk instead of regular milk.
• For greens — use skin-free smoked turkey, liquid smoke, fat-free bacon bits, or low-fat bacon instead of fatty meats.
• For sweet potato pie — mash sweet potato with orange juice concentrate, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, and only one egg. Leave out the butter.
• For cakes, cookies, quick breads, and pancakes — use egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs. Two egg whites can be substituted in many recipes for one whole egg.
• Use unsweetened applesauce or mashed ripe bananas instead of butter.
• Try cutting the amount of sugar listed in recipes in half.
• Use spices to add flavor such as cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg instead of salt.
• Try baked apples with cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar instead of apple pie.
• Invite your guests to make their own parfait with colorful sliced fruit and low-fat yogurt.

For meats and poultry (chicken and turkey):
• Trim away all of the visible fat from meats and poultry before cooking.
• Take off poultry skin before eating.
• Broil, grill, roast, poach, or boil meat, poultry, or fish instead of frying.
• Drain off any fat that appears during cooking.
• Chill meat and poultry broth until fat becomes solid. Skim off fat before using the broth.
• Skip or limit the breading on meat, poultry, or fish. Breading adds fat and calories. It will also cause the food to soak up more fat during frying.
• Choose and prepare foods without high fat sauces or gravies.

When Shopping:
• Start with a lean choice.
• The leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts (round eye, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts.
• The leanest pork choices include pork loin, tenderloin, center loin, and ham.
• Boneless skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets are the leanest poultry choice.

Use the food label to help you choose
• Choose extra lean ground beef. The label should say at least “90% lean.” You may be able to find ground beef that is 93% or 95% lean.
• Processed meats such as hams, sausages, frankfurters, and luncheon or deli meats have added sodium. Check the ingredient and Nutrition Facts label to help limit sodium intake.
• Fresh chicken, turkey, and pork that have been enhanced with a salt-containing solution also have added sodium. Check the product label for statements such as “self-basting” or “contains up to __% of __.”
• Lower fat versions of many processed meats are available. Look on the Nutrition Facts label to choose products with less fat and saturated fat.

De-Saturate
• Use a nonstick pan with vegetable cooking oil spray or a small amount of liquid vegetable oil instead of lard, butter, shortening, or other fats that are solid at room temperature.

Enjoy the Food, Fun, Friends and Family!
Cheers to Good Health
• Quench your thirst with low-calorie options. Drink water with lemon or lime slices. Offer seltzer water with a splash of 100% fruit juice.

Be the Life of the Party
• Laugh, mingle, dance, and play games. Focus on fun and enjoy the company of others.

Give to Others
• Spend time providing foods or preparing meals for those who may need a little help. Give food to a local food bank or volunteer to serve meals at a shelter during the holiday season. Giving back is a great mood booster.

Make Exercise a Part of the Fun
• Make being active part of your holiday tradition. Have fun walking and talking with family and friends after a holiday meal. Give gifts that encourage others to practice healthy habits such as workout DVDs, running shoes, and reusable water bottles.

Enjoy the Leftovers
• Create delicious new meals with your leftovers. Add turkey to soups or salads. Use extra veggies in omelets, sandwiches, or stews. The possibilities are endless!

Be sure your family and friends enjoy the food and fun, but focus on the time together. Remember this season is all about the memories, not just the food. You will feel better and enjoy your holiday time with less worry if you focus on staying healthy this season.

Source: USDA United States Department of Agriculture – www.MyPlate.gov

Beat the Heat this Summer – Stay Hydrated for Health

Stay hydrated to beat the heat!

Stay hydrated to beat the heat!

Summer is in full swing and our part of the country is very hot.  When the temperature rises, proper hydration is extra important. You need to provide your body with the fluid that it needs to stay healthy. Water regulates many different body processes, including body temperature, digestion, and heart rate. It also cushions and protects our internal organs and joints. When we do not get enough of it, our bodies can suffer.  We lose water from our bodies every time we breathe, sweat, or urinate. In fact, it’s estimated that you can lose up to 4 cups of water during an hour of exercise in the heat. This water loss can lead to dehydration.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Little or no urine, or dark urine
  • Dizziness, or lightheaded feeling
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Extreme thirst
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Cramping

Ultimately, dehydration can lead to extreme thirst, confusion, heat stroke, loss of consciousness, and death.  So, how can you manage staying hydrated in the heat of summer?  One of the key answers is not to wait until you are thirsty. Drink water regularly!  Food can also provide some of the water you need every day- especially food like watermelon, soup, milk, lettuce, and strawberries. Sugar-sweetened sports drinks or beverages with added minerals, vitamins, or electrolytes are NOT necessary unless you are a competitive athlete or in heavy training for an athletic event.

Tips for staying hydrated:

  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Purchasing bottled water is expensive and creates plastic bottle waste. Carry a reusable water bottle and fill it from the tap instead.
  • If you do not like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or another type of fruit to your drink.
  • Be sure to drink water before, during, and after a workout.
  • When you are feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water.
  • If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and when you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour.
  • Drink water when you go to a restaurant. It will keep you hydrated, and it is free!

Be safe this summer and stay hydrated, so you will enjoy your outdoor time. Also, remind you family and friends to drink water too.  You will all feel better and have more fun!

Bad Weather Blues: Ideas for Indoor Club Meeting Recreation

Don't let the weather ruin your club's recreational time.  Play inside!

Don’t let the weather ruin your club’s recreational time. Play inside!

It’s that time of year in North Florida when we’re not sure what we’ll wake up to each morning. We may be in short sleeves, sweatshirts, or hip waders and that can make planning a club meeting tough. During this time of year, between the cold and the rain, it’s seldom that our youth are allowed to go outside for PE.  And in lower grades, where a gym may not be available, they are often not getting any significant amount of physical activity during the school day. This is neither good for their mental or physical health, so how can we combat the winter-blues in our club meetings? Here are a few suggestions:

Indoor relay and tag games: If space permits, move the furniture out of the way, and let the kids play freeze tag or have a relay race. Relays are often easy to relate to the educational topic of your meeting. Examples include:

  • Set the table relay: where youth draw a piece of a table setting out of a paper bag, run to a table across the room, and put it in its proper place on the table. (the floor can be used in place of a table if need be.) The first team to correctly set the table wins.
  • Salsa relay: youth put plastic tomatoes or peppers or onions or garlic between their knees and “run/waddle” around a cone, chair, or tape mark, at the other end of the room back to their team where they pass on their piece of food to the next team mate. The first team to have each player complete the task wins.
  • Traditional balloon and ring races are always good too.

Exercise bingo: Contact your local extension office for a copy of exercise bingo. In this high intensity game, each youth or team of youth, is given a bingo card and a stack of exercise cards which face down on the floor. A teammate flips an exercise card, and each team member completes the task on the card (arm circles, pushups, jumping jacks, etc.) If their bingo card includes this exercise, the team captain marks that spot off of their card. Teammates take turn flipping exercise cards until they have Bingo. The first team to get Bingo wins.

Simon Says, Duck-Duck-Goose, London Bridge: These games require only a little space, and are still fun for younger youth, especially Cloverbuds (4-7 yrs). Simon says can often relate to your educational program as well. Ex – “Simon says comb your steer.” “Simon says, stir the batter.” “Simon says bait your hook.”

Legos, board games, etc.: It’s not very active, we know, but sometimes space just doesn’t allow for much physical activity, but it’s still important for youth to have time to interact with each other and relax. Be sure not to pick board games that may take hours to complete. Things like Charades, Guestures, Win, Lose or Draw, etc. are great options.

Now it’s your turn.  Get creative, and in the comments section below, share with us the ideas you have for indoor recreation!

Let’s Go Back Outside!

4-H youth learn about the habitat and calm nature of the Gopher Tortoise

Youth learn about the habitat and calm nature of the Gopher Tortoise at the 4-H Wildiife and Outdoor Recreation Camp

Many youth today are suffering from a serious, preventable disorder that is the result of early age experiences and if not properly diagnosed or treated, may cause severe mental health issues up through adulthood.  This disorder I’m referring to is called Videophilia.  Videophilia can be described as the love of any form of electronic media.  This media may be internet, movies, video games, cell phones, or just plain TV. Many youth are so attached to their video devices that they hardly ever go outside to see what’s going on in the natural world. In Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods” he calls this condition “Nature-Deficit Disorder”. 

 

According to the Center for Environmental Health, consistent contact with nature has many health benefits including helping to ease attention-deficit disorder, aiding in cognitive development, enhancing creativity, and reducing stress.  With so much emphasis on our communities becoming more sustainable in how they utilize resources, many environmentalist fear that the loss of contact with nature will weaken Americans commitments to conservation and biodiversity.  These concepts will have more impact to the future of our world if they are introduced to youth as they matriculate through grade school. The earlier we teach them how to enjoy the great outdoors the better!

 

What is nature you may ask??  Nature can be Yellowstone National Park, The Appalachia National Forest, or it could be a clump of trees at the back of a neighborhood or in someone’s yard.  To the scientific eye the clump of trees might not look like much but to a child it could be a life changing experience. Every 4-H club agenda that is developed should include a nature walk or some other outdoor activity.  Additionally, 4-H residential and day camps provide perfect opportunities for both youth and adults to explore the great outdoors together.  Most electronic programs and activities only require hearing and seeing, however providing an outdoor experience for 4-H youth will provide opportunities to hear, smell, touch, see and sometimes taste.  Nature Deficit Disorder may be a growing disorder, but lucky for us, with programs like 4-H and great volunteers, it is a disorder that can be easily cured!