SOUTHSIDE — The summer time feel is all around Mason County. The weather is warm, the sun is hot, and campers are kicking off their summer at Mason County 4-H camp.
Lorrie Wright, extension agent, explained 4-H camp starts the week after school releases for summer vacation. The older group camps first, youth in grades seven up to age 21. The following week the younger group camps, youth age 9 up to sixth grade.
This year was an exception as the school year was extended, Wright explained the Mason County Board of Education approved 4-H campers the day off on Monday as to not disrupt their camping plans.
She said 4-H camp could not annually take place without the support of the community. Wright commented a tremendous support comes from the Mason County Commission and this year Homeland Security set up an emergency plan at the campsite. She said the camp does not have reliable cell phone reception, so the county commission provided them with a box aiding with reception to use when in need. Also, Homeland Security can watch over the campsite and alert the campers of problems such as if inclement weather is approaching.
The Camp Committee begins the planning process for each year’s 4-H in January explained Wright and Camp Committee Member/Counselor Linda Roush.
When youth attend 4-H camp, they spend their week with their designated tribe being either Cherokee, Delaware, Mingo, or Seneca. Wright said the campers typically go into a tribe which either a friend or family is involved.
She said campers come from all three county high schools and multiple grade schools. Campers have the opportunity to know more youth in the community, Wright commented the younger campers benefit from meeting fellow campers who will one day be their high school classmates.
Campers participate in several activies while at 4-Camp, Wright explained a typical day at camp consists of tribal meetings, tribal duties, sports activities, full group assemblies, classroom instruction, council circles, and evening programs.
Campers play games and have fun, but they also attend classes that consist of everything from archery to crafts, wood shop, air rifles, photography, slate painting, fairy gardening, leather crafting, and more.
Wright explained the health department does a lesson on how to be prepared in emergency medical situations and Ohio Valley Bank teaches the campers financing skills, such as balancing a check book.
Rockin’ Reggie also comes out every year to DJ for both the older and younger campers during evening programs.
Wright commented a pair of campers from Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School is working on a personal broadcasting project where they are taking clips of 4-H camp activities and will be turning it into a commercial to promote 4-H during the school year via Point Pleasant Live.
She explained during a candle lighting reflection this week the campers discussed what 4-H camp means to them and many commented on the fact they all feel included while at camp, forming familial bonds.
“I guess 4-H means to me…it’s just a big family, ” said 4-H member Derrick Jackson, “They always tell you, don’t be afraid to find who you are, learn new things, help others, help the new kids discover what they want to do, who they want to be, show them to not be afraid to have fun.”
Jackson explained coming back to camp every year is like attending a big reunion.
He will be aging out after this year and plans on coming back on as a camp counselor. Jackson explained he has plans to be an extension agent.
Jackson stated, “Camp has meant so much to me. The counselors have helped me all the way through my years here…I would like to help others as much as they’ve helped me.”
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.