Spring is upon us and 4-H Summer Camp preparations are in full swing. As a 4-H agent preparing for our week of county 4-H camp my days are busy with phone calls and emails from parents, teen counselor trainings, adult volunteer screenings and paperwork. Although this is a very busy time for me as a 4-H agent, it also allows me to reflect on why I chose this career path and why there is a sense of nostalgia as I prepare for 4-H camp.

I attended 4-H camp in Virginia, where I grew up, every year from age 9-18. I was a camper that grew into a counselor-in-training and then a counselor. Those weeks of 4-H camp were filled with hot days and warm nights, but it was worth it all for the memories I will have for a lifetime. I can still smell the cafeteria food, hear the sounds in the gymnasium as kids played basketball and pounded at their leathercraft projects. I can feel the chills I would get as the entire camp sang around the campfire circle and patiently waited for the canoe to land on the lakes edge, and the camp staff would carry a flame as they entered the campfire circle and ceremoniously lit the fire. Most importantly, I am still connected with my 4-H camp friends through social media and/or as close friends and we continue to share our old, blurry camp pictures from the 1990’s each year on Facebook.

Therefore, as I work hard to prepare camp for my county campers and teen counselors I want to create similar memories for them. In ten, twenty, and thirty years from now I want them to think back on the fun moments they experienced in the Florida 4-H camping program. I also want them to form friendships and make camp connections for a lifetime, whether it is learning to kayak, fish, making arts and crafts, cooking over a campfire, singing camp songs and much more.

With all of this said, I hope you as parents will consider giving your child(ren) these special moments. The days will be long, but fun and their nights will be filled with campfires and hanging out with friends. When they arrive home on Friday, they will be exhausted, but so excited to share all of the camp songs with you (prepare yourself for lots of loud, enthusiastic singing). They will have new friends they want you to meet and they will tell you camp stories that they will always cherish.

Gulf County will be camping at 4-H Camp Timpoochee July 8-12. Campers must be ages 8-13 as of Sept. 1, 2018. Junior and Senior Counselors must be ages 14-18 as of Sept. 1, 2018. 2019 Camp Theme: Adventure is Out There!

The cost this year is $350 per camper and $275 per counselor, but there ARE SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE. You just need to apply.

If you would like a camp packet including directions to the online registration system and the scholarship applications, please contact the Gulf County Extension Office at 850-630-3200 or metaylor@ufl.edu. Pre-registration is required! Limited spots available, so reserve your child’s spot today!