Of all the heartache and disappointment the pandemic dealt last year, letting go of camp was one of the most difficult for me. In February, 4-H decided statewide to forego resident camp programs again this summer. However, Sacramento County 4-H will provide a local day camp experience that promises a rich, fun learning experience. We're hoping campers are waiting!
In my youth development career—first with Camp Fire and now with 4-H—I have seen camp's power to change lives and inspire a better world. It's the best place for kids to learn independence yet how to live in community; to foster discovery and awe; to understand and value nature; to know themselves and respect differences in others; to grow in teamwork, responsibility and leadership. These things are not unique to resident camp; they happen for day campers, too.
Day camp is not a consolation prize because we lost our overnight camp experience. Day camp is its own unique program that offers opportunity and growth in its own right. Yes, we send campers back home (dirty, tired and happy) at the end of each day, and you rest them, clean them up and send them back for another day of adventure. Sometimes this is a perfect way for youth who might not attend overnight camp (because of other commitments, or they're not quite ready to leave home for a week, or their parents aren't ready to have them leave home!) to realize the benefits of camp.
4-H day camp will contain the elements that make camp a special and unique learning environment. Kids will bond with other campers and the teenage staff they adore. They'll experience making decisions and living within a small group, the importance of speaking up and of compromise. They'll learn more about the natural world through hands-on activities, guest presenters, and the open outdoors. And some will feel challenged in new ways…and the pride that comes with mastering things that are difficult.
Sacramento's 4-H day camp will run June 22-24 at River Bend Park. For further detail, contact Sacramento County 4-H at Sacramento4h@ucanr.edu. Please consider this opportunity for your child. Talk it over with them. See if they have a friend who might want to come, too. They need not be a current 4-H member. And rest assured, every precaution is taken to assure the experience is safe, especially during COVID-19.
Camp gave me my love for the wilderness, the passion I feel for my work, and forever friends. And for me, it all started at day camp.