4-H kicks off summer camping season

Richard Bogren  |  5/26/2017 3:59:43 PM

(05/26/17) POLLOCK, La. – As schools prepare to close their doors for summer break, the Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center in Pollock is flinging open the gates for children eager to “catch their dream of summer fun” — the camp theme for this year.

The 4-H camping season opened May 22, with the first of 10 weeks aimed at helping children ages 9 to 12 escape summer boredom in a safe learning environment.

Each parish 4-H youth development program has a specific week scheduled for camp during the summer, and registration for 4-H members is handled through local 4-H offices.

Children not in 4-H can register for a week of camp through an online open enrollment system at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/grantwalker. The camp fee for open enrollment is $225, and parents or guardians are responsible for transportation to and from camp.

The open enrollment system offers non-4-H’ers a chance to have a summer camping experience while learning what 4-H is all about, said AgCenter camp director Christine Bergeron.

“Each day offers something new to excite, engage and encourage personal growth in our campers,” she said.

A varied daily schedule encourages children to get out and get moving with hands-on learning, interactive games and a variety of sports, including canoeing, kayaking, basketball, swimming, archery and paddle-boarding.

Mornings at camp offer boys and girls a choice of one of seven educational tracks taught by classroom instructors, and afternoon sessions are filled with recreational and free-time activities.

Interactive lessons encourage children to explore and experiment in areas of food and fitness, general arts, outdoor adventures, wetlands, hunter safety, water safety, and science, engineering and technology (SET).

Sample of activities include making kale chips and practicing yoga poses in food and fitness, setting off rockets in SET, and building a boat that floats with nothing more than a golf ball, sticks and string in the wetlands track.

Bergeron said summer camp offers an all-around camping experience that focuses on the development of the whole child and encourages creativity, communication and problem-solving.

“Campers really unplug for a week, so they develop social skills, gain confidence and self-esteem, learn to depend on each other and actually spend time playing outdoors,” Bergeron said.

Staff and instructors at camp have been preparing for several weeks to make sure campers have a fun educational experience, and many staff members are previous campers and junior 4-H leaders, Bergeron said.

“Camp is a great place to learn and grow and make lifelong friends, while having fun in a safe, inclusive environment,” said camp assistant Mikaela Carender.

Carender, who has attended camp for 13 years as a camper, teen counselor and camp staffer, said each year she sees children try new things that they otherwise would never have a chance to do.

“It doesn’t matter whether it becomes their new favorite thing or not,” she said. “They really appreciate the chance to try and to learn.”

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Paddling a kayak is one of the afternoon water activities, along with tubing, canoeing, and swimming at 4-H summer camp, where 4-H’ers are encouraged to be active, make new friends and enjoy the outdoors. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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Shooting a bow and arrow is one of the morning educational tracks 4-H summer camp offers campers to develop new skills. Archery is offered as part of the outdoors adventures track as well as an afternoon recreation activity. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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4-H’ers participate in parachute games, one of many team sports and games offered at 4-H summer camp that teach campers how to have fun while working together. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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