(05/24/19) POLLOCK, La. — Buses began rolling into the LSU AgCenter Grant Walker Educational Center on May 20, kicking off the official start of the summer camping season.
About 375 youth from parishes across the state arrived Monday afternoon, eager to sign up for their favorite educational track and recreational activities for the first week of 4-H summer camp.
“I came here to try something different,” said Sabine Parish fifth grader Lehr Turner.
Turner said her mom had attended camp when she was young and encouraged her to give it a try.
“I wanted to meet new friends and do more, and there are more opportunities,” she said.
Turner signed up for the food and fitness track to learn more about how to make healthy snacks and fuel up for better sports performance.
“I like to cook, and I love to run — it’s my favorite thing to do,” she said.
“The AgCenter’s premier summer camping program offers youth a unique opportunity for growth and personal development, from learning to live and work together to making good decisions and showing positive character throughout the week,” said Toby Lepley, AgCenter associate vice president for youth development.
Campers can select from seven exciting educational tracks focusing on food and fitness, outdoor adventures, general arts, hunter safety, wildlife and wetlands, renewable energy, and science and technology.
Each track has structured lessons and fun hands-on activities taught by classroom instructors during morning sessions at camp.
Every year more than 3,500 4-H’ers visit the campground during the 10-week program, said AgCenter camp director Christine Bergeron.
“Boys and girls have a chance to make new friends, develop personal responsibility and increase self-esteem while having fun in a hands-on learning environment,” she said.
Three kid-friendly meals and three snacks a day keep the youngsters fueled for activities that start early with interactive workshops and end late with free-time swimming and dancing.
Afternoons are filled with active play in recreational activities like swimming, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, archery, line dancing and a variety of team and individual sports.
Four-year staff member Colton Dupre said making sure campers are having as much fun as possible in a safe and controlled environment is the most important part of his job.
LaSalle Parish sixth grader Wyatt Wheeler said what he likes most about camp is making new friends, but he has learned useful things, too, such as important ATV safety rules.
“We are supposed to go riding on a trail tomorrow, and that will be really fun,” he said.
Wheeler said he learned many tips that will be helpful on the trail, like braking techniques, how to lean into turns to help stay balanced and how to stand up when going over large bumps to better control the vehicle.
“Our goal is to provide the optimum balance of informal educational experiences within the morning tracks with classic, fun recreational experiences each afternoon that all campers can enjoy,” said Grant Walker 4-H program coordinator Adam O’Malley.
“Each day at camp is supremely rewarding, seeing campers learning, exploring and enjoying the outdoors,” said O’Malley, who joined the camp staff in March.
The 4-H camping season for youth in grades four to tix continues through July. The last week of camp is reserved for LOST camp, a special science, engineering and technology adventure that targets youth in grades seven and eight that runs July 28-31.
Each parish 4-H program has a specific week scheduled for club members to attend camp during the summer, and registration is handled through local 4-H offices.
Youth who are not enrolled in 4-H Clubs in their parish can join in the camping fun by registering through the online open enrollment system. 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. Camp updates and highlights are posted on Facebook at Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center.
4-H’ers learn ATV safety in a controlled environment during 4-H camp at the LSU AgCenter Grant Walker Educational Center in Pollock, Louisiana. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter
Kayaking is among the water sports in which 4-H’ers participate 4-H camp at the LSU AgCenter Grant Walker Educational Center in Pollock, Louisiana. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter
4-H’ers participate in a number of craft activities during 4-H camp at the LSU AgCenter Grant Walker Educational Center in Pollock, Louisiana. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter