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Cherry Lake Day Camp – Where Learning Meets Fun

Have you ever walked into somewhere and the smell brought back wonderful memories?  For a Taylor County 4-H counselor walking into the dining hall at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake this summer reminded him of lots of great memories of his time at 4-H Camp. The thought of how much youth need these types of experiences even during a pandemic made the efforts of Madison, Lafayette and Taylor County agents that much more essential.

Connecting During the Pandemic

Taylor 4H youth learning how to kayak As we knew we couldn’t provide a residential camp experience for our youth this summer we worked together to provide a similar residential experience for 4-Hers minus the sleep over part.  More than 65 lucky youth and staff attended Camp Cherry Lake Summer Day Camp in June. While Covid-19 guidelines and modified programs where necessary, the fundamental essences of camp remained intact. Kids playing and learning together, mentored by camp counselors and staff, and in most cases outdoors.  According to the campers, parents and staff at the camp stated it was by far their most meaningful camp experience ever.  Youth were able to have real human connection. During the pandemic zoom and remote learning saved us in so many ways,  but there’s no substitute for real human connection.  Making and strengthening relationships while being guided by caring adults is what camp is all about.  This camp provided an opportunity for youth to reacquaint with nature.  While society has been trapped indoors whether in a classroom or at home most of the world is outside and it is amazing!  Youth were taught how to connect with nature through hands on experiences.  They learned how to operate a kayak and for some this was a first.

Learning to Be Resilient

Resiliency –our kids are certainly developing it; experiencing disappointments that will make them stronger.  Learning to be brave and step out and learn a new skill can be Taylor 4H youth shooting an arrowscary for some but we want kids to grow up with the kind of courage and “can do” attitude that our home care, firefighters, military, and many more have learned to cultivate.   

Physical and Mental Health

Taylor 4H youth learning how to shoot an air-soft gunSummer day camps are widely known for its physical health benefits, according to the CDC, “Children’s mental health during a public health emergency can have both short- and long-term consequences to their overall health and wellbeing. Kids needed the social interaction that this face-to-face day camp provided.  Youth traveled daily to 4-H camp cherry lake.   Each day youth were taught a variety of life skills.  Youth enjoyed learning in the great outdoors where they participated in kayaking, fishing, seining, archery, air-rifle, vermi-composting, nutrition, yoga, food science, crafts, line dancing and singing camp songs.  The most popular next to jumping off the top deck of the pontoon boat was playing a game of paint war with marshmallows dipped in a bucket of tempera paint.

The next time you visit a place, remember to breathe in the wonderful memories that cultivated from that space out as the camp counselor did when returning to Camp Cherry Lake. 

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