(05/31/2018) POLLOCK, La. — Approximately 3,000 youth will spend a week swimming, canoeing, creating and learning at 4-H camp at the LSU AgCenter Grant Walker Educational Center near Pollock.
Trinity Bustamento, of Caddo Parish, said her favorite part of camp is meeting new friends and participating in recreation activities, including swimming, playing volleyball and going to the dance.
“Camp is great for coming out and meeting new people and getting over your shyness,” she said.
The summer camping season began May 21 and continues through July 27 offering nine weeks of 4-H camp for youth in grades four to six. The center will also host LOST camp, a science, engineering and technology-focused camp that runs from July 29 to Aug. 1 and targets youth in grades seven and eight.
The five-day program offers morning educational tracks, supervised afternoon recreational activities and free time to explore a variety of interests that encourage creativity, communication and problem-solving, said AgCenter camp director Christine Bergeron.
The Grant Walker Educational Center is administered by the LSU AgCenter and supports a trained staff of student educators and certified lifeguards, along with parish extension agents, teen counselors and adult volunteers, who guide campers through all activities.
Campers choose from one of seven educational tracks to attend each day, including outdoor skills, water safety, Louisiana wetlands, general arts, food and fitness, hunter education and science, engineering and technology (SET).
The Hathorn Fitness and Nature Trail, swimming in the creek and an enhanced all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety course are new on the camp agenda this year, Bergeron said.
“ATV is a rider-active sport,” Claiborne Parish 4-H member and camp counselor Ethan Coker said. Campers learn safety and maneuvering techniques, how to do pre-ride inspections and prepare the rider, and drive a carefully supervised obstacle course.
“The campers were able to put all that was practiced into play,” said AgCenter extension agent Kayla McGuire, who served as the ATV safety instructor during the first week of camp.
McGuire said many youth believe they have experience operating an ATV when they don’t, and think they know how to drive.
“Seeing how attitudes changed from the first day was amazing,” she said.
The food and fitness track focused on food science and food preparation methods, said Morgan Mayeux, a former 4-H counselor from Avoyelles Parish who now works as a camp staff member.
“Every day we talked about water-soluble vitamins and how to preserve the nutritional quality of foods using various cooking methods,” she said.
Amelia Broussard, a second-year camp staffer, said the wetlands track teaches campers about watershed management, water quality, alligators and macroinvertebrates.
Campers simulate running an alligator farm, hatch play eggs and calculate how many baby alligators would have to be released into the wild, she said.
“Alligator farmers are required to release 12 percent of live births into the wild, so they would do the math and figure that out,” Broussard said.
LaSalle Parish 4-H’er Brodey Freeman enjoyed making animal tracks in wetlands education.
“You make a print in sand with a cast of the track, mix the plaster and fill the track, then let it harden,” Freeman said.
Andy Tarver, of Sabine Parish, attended camp as an adult volunteer with his children, Nicholas and Allie. Nicholas has special needs and brought his all-terrain chair with him to camp, Tarver said.
“The camp facility has been great,” Tarver said, adding that the staff was helpful and the chef even provided gluten-free meals.
Bergeron said youth wanting attend camp can register through local parish extension offices as part of 4-H youth development programs.
Youth who are not enrolled in 4-H clubs in their parish can participate in camp by registering through the online open enrollment system at www.lsuagcenter.com/grantwalker, she said. The camp fee for open enrollment is $225, and parents are responsible for transportation to and from camp.
More information about 4-H summer camp and the Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center is available online at www.lsuagcenter.com/grantwalker. Camp updates and highlights are posted on Facebook at Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center.
A new all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety program offered as part of the outdoors adventures track at 4-H camp teaches youth vital rules and practices while riding. The camp at Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center near Pollock runs from May 21 to July 27. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter
Campers Brodey Freeman, of LaSalle Parish, and Ethan Bradford, of Jackson Parish, make animal track plaster casts as they explore wildlife diversity and habitat in the Louisiana wetlands track at 4-H camp. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter
The restored Hathorn Fitness and Nature Trail is a big hit with campers, offering individual fitness challenges and a chance to explore the campground at the LSU AgCenter Grant Walker Educational Center near Pollock. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter