Summer 4-H camps lend multiple benefits

As summer heats up, 4-H offers plenty of cool, summer camps throughout Michigan.

Campers working together at the Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp. | Michigan State University Extension
Campers working together at the Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp. | Michigan State University Extension

Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development offers many summer camps that come in all shapes and sizes. There are afternoon camps, day camps, weekend and weeklong camps. There are camps that teach lessons in leadership, science, government, husbandry and the environment as well as many other topics. I am sure there is something to meet your time constants and the interests of your child.

The benefits to “camping” can be countless. The experiences will be memorable and the lessons, life changing. Listed below are just some of the benefits youth gain from a summer camp.

Hands-on experience

Keeping with the 4-H mission to have youth participate in the experience to get a better understanding, many of the camps are located at sites that offer the resources to DO the work and test their skills. Youth are on the water, in the field, and at the machine. “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I will understand,” is a quote from Confucius. In 4-H, you can DO! That hands-on experience helps youth understand and retain what they have learned.

Real-life experiences

In these settings, the educators and instructors give the students real life authentic learning. It’s like on-the-job training. Youth shadow experts in caring for animals or are alongside scientists gathering data. They learn from government officials about the processes they incorporate and then put that processes to test in their own communities. They experience and solve real life problems. The can also get a great sense of what it may be like once they enter the workforce.

Allowed to make mistakes

In this safe environment, youth are allowed to make mistakes. They are not given a grade but rather an experience they can learn from. If they fail, it’s not going to lower their GPA or they won’t get denied acceptance to college. On the contrary, these experiences can aid in getting accepted into college or future employment. These experiences can set an applicant apart and are often life lessons that will carry over to success in college or a career. “Experience is making mistakes and learning from them,” Bill Ackman once said. 4-H offers experiences.

Continued education

Not only can youth explore possible career paths and gain knowledge in fields not offered in schools, but they can continue to strengthen skills learned in school. They often have to work in teams, conduct experiments, report findings and solve problems, all of which are skills used in any future work environment or future classroom.

It’s time away from home

This might be the biggest influence that is not a direct goal of camps. For some youth, it will be their first time away from home for an extended time. They will learn to get along with others and take responsibility for themselves. In this safe environment, they can flourish and learn more about themselves and what leader may lie within.

Outdoor activates

You can’t forget the fun part of camp, and that is being outside! Many camps are outside and involve meeting new people. Sharing in these experiences can be rewarding. Friends are often made that last a lifetime. It brings communities throughout the state together to share ideas, thoughts, concerns and learning experiences.

I often hear adults say that if they were younger they would really enjoy a certain camp and wish they could attend. Or, those that have attended past 4-H camps say they never forgot the experiences and people they encountered. It made them happy to be a part of it. You might be a little late in signing up for some summer camps this year, but visit the MSU Extension 4-H website and click on 4-H Programs. You can also search for “camps.” Plus, it’s not too late to get involved with 4-H now so you won’t miss out for next year. It’s a wonderful experience. Stay a happy camper!

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