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4-H’ers Have a Blast at Camp Ocala

This past June, 4-H’ers from four District 9 counties gathered at 4-H Camp Ocala for a great time making new friends having fun, and even learning. PinellasCounty is joined by Polk, Pasco, and HillsboroughCounties for this week-long adventure in theOcalaNational Forest. In addition to the beautiful forest scenery, campers also enjoy the nearly pristine LakeSellers. By the end of the week, most campers had a summer’s worth of stories, camp songs, and tall tales to share with friends and family.

Campers participated in a variety of activities all week long. They also choose one CountyClassthey attend for a class period each day. This year’s CountyClasses included the Press Team. This group spent their class time each day interviewing campers and taking pictures. By Friday morning the team had published a camp newspaper and “delivered” one to each camper. The Rocketry classes spent their week building rockets and then launching them for the whole camp to watch. Some of the rockets gained such attitude, they temporarily disappeared from sight. One of the biggest classes was Ball Room Dancing. It was nicely balanced by the Hip Hop Fitness class taught by counselor Katy Wheeler. In all, campers could choose from ten CountyClasses.

At Thursday night’s candle lighting ceremony, Brian Sackett of the King’s English 4-H club, was honored as the Junior Head 4-H Spirit. The Spirits include Head, Heart, Hands, Health, and Spirit. The adults and senior counselors look for campers who exemplify the values of 4-H. Brian was overwhelmingly elected Junior Head.

One of the highlights of the week was Wednesday’s flag retirement ceremony at campfire. Fourteen of the senior camp counselors each read a narrative piece that described the history, meaning, and importance of our flag. Many of the campers had tears in their eyes as they thought of their family members who were in Iraq or other places overseas.

In addition to the campers, there was a family of three sandhill cranes that spent the day walking around the camp, looking for good things to eat in the ground. When another sandhill family landed at the camp, they were noisily chased away by the adult cranes of the first family. Every year these birds raise one or two babies right in the middle of camp.

The OcalaNational Forest is home to a great variety of wildlife. Bears, foxes, and bobcat have all been spotted in the area. This year mysterious tracks were spotted next to the camp. Suggested identities range from a panther to the neighbor’s dog. In any case, the story of the tracks will be the next tall tale from CampOcala.

Pinellas 4-H camps for one week each summer at CampOcala. For more information about the 4-H camp or environmental education program, please contact Jean Rogalsky at jrogalsk@pinellascounty.org. And keep reading the 4-H blog.