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Beth Hawse, youth development agent at Bedford’s Virginia Tech extension office, grew up with 4-H camp.
She went for the first time in the summer after she finished fourth grade, the first year she could go, and went “every single year.” She went as a camper. Later, as a teen, went as counselor in training and, after that, as a teen counselor. After graduating from college, with a bachelor of science in biology, she went as an adult volunteer. She said it was a very meaningful experience.
“Being able to meet horses and spend time with horses was special,” she said, describing one of her favorite experiences.
She also loved swimming and outdoor experiences. Her 4-H camp experience led to her career.
“I knew I was going to get paid to play in the woods,” she said.
Before coming to work with the Extension Service she was a chief ranger with Virginia’s state parks.
This year’s 4-H Summer Camp takes place from June 16 to June 20. The camp is a residential camp — the youth stay overnight. It’s for youth ages 9 to 13.
Hawse said anyone who was 13 by Jan. 1 of this year can apply to be a counselor in training and anyone who was 14 by that date can be a teen counselor. Teen counselors range from 14 through 18. The camp is held at the W. E. Skelton 4-H Educational and Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake. You do not have to be a member of a 4-H club to attend.
Hawse said 4-H camping has been around for 80 years and 27,000 Virginia youth attend camp at one of the six 4-H centers in Virginia. The goal of 4-H camping is to develop life skills in a cooperative group living environment in a natural setting. The camps seek to teach decision making, problem solving and managing personal resources. Virginia’s 4-H camping program is accredited by the American Camp Association.
The camp offers a number of activities, including riflery, canoeing, basic horsemanship, swimming, kayaking, volleyball, basketball, outdoor adventures, golf, miniature golf, archery and performing arts.
There isn’t much time left to sign up. The cost is $250 per camper and the initial deposit of $100 is supposed to be turned in tomorrow. However, people can still sign up and pay the cost as late as May 15. There is, however, an additional $25 cost per camper if the deposit isn’t in by May 1.
Hawse said financial assistance is available for children who want to go to camp with Bedford Master Gardeners and the Bedford Ruritan Club providing money. Hawse said additional money for financial assistance for campers would be appreciated and people can send donations to: Bedford Extension Office, 122 East Main Street, Suite 102, Bedford, Virginia, 24523. These donations are tax deductible if the checks are made out to Virginia Tech Foundation.