4-H camp is back

3 girls sitting around a fire roasting marshmallows.

Ohio 4-H educators are making the best summer experience even better with plans for a summer of innovative camp opportunities for Ohio 4-H youth.

2020 saw the cancellation of Ohio 4-H camps due to COVID-19 restrictions. While camps will operate a bit differently this year to keep campers safe and follow safety guidelines, many traditional activities will still take place.

“The Ohio 4-H Camping Design Team spent months developing plans for camp using guidelines from the American Camp Association, The Ohio State University, and the Ohio Department of Health,” said Frances Foos, a 4-H educator with Ohio State University Extension.

“Data shows that camp contributes to the mental and physical well-being of youth,” she said. “And with all that kids have been through the past 18 months, going to camp could make a positive difference.” A campfire with kids sitting in the background.

New health requirements will be followed to keep youth and counselors safe at day and overnight camps.

“Campers will be with counselors in groups of 10 or less, based on the size of cabins,” said Hannah Epley, camping and older youth specialist and interim associate state 4-H leader. “They will stay with that group for all activities and meals, limiting their exposure to others.”

Those activities will be supervised by 4-H professionals and teen counselors who have spent months preparing for camp with trainings held via Zoom. One girl guiding another blind-folded girl through a trust and communication exercise.

Some counties are offering a day camp experience instead of overnight camp. For example, Wood County 4-H members have the option of two, daylong programs at Camp Palmer.

“We’ve planned crafts, a dance, swimming, and a carnival,” said Jayne Roth, a 4-H educator. “All the traditional camp activities fit into one day. I think it will be exciting for our counselors and will leave the kids excited to come back to camp next year.”

Whether youth attend day or overnight, the opportunity to attend 4-H camp this summer signals a return to something familiar for them.

To help send more kids to camp, a “Camp Is Making a Comeback” 4-H Camp Buckeye Funder begins May 24, with a theme of “Help Us Send S’more Kids to Camp.” Due to the pandemic, camps needed donations for survival last summer. This year, the camps are bouncing back.

Those who donate $150 to 4-H camps will receive a 4-H camp-themed candle in the scent of s’mores and campfire. Those who donate $250 will receive two of the scented candles. To learn more or to give, visit give.osu.edu/4hcamps.