Article and audio introduction by Samantha Kennedy, Family and Consumer Sciences
It was a busy summer at the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension office, offering a variety of day camps to youth 8 to 15 years old, in an array of topics. From computers and cooking, to gardening and sewing, our day camps offered a little something for everyone.
Five different camps where held this summer, each 2-3 days long. It started with Coding Camp, where youth learned the basics of computer coding and robotics. Participants were able to write their own basic code to create games, graphics, and commands to make a small robot move.
Next was Kitchen Creations camp, offered through our Family and Consumer Sciences Extension program, where campers learned basic kitchen and food safety skills. The kids prepared and cooked a main course, two sides, and a dessert each day, which they enjoyed sharing with their fellow campers. Important concepts such as proper knife handling, choosing the right tools for the job, and kitchen organization were taught as well.
Grilling Camp completed a week of cooking camps, where youth learned the basics of grilling, from grill safety, coal preparation, and basic grilling techniques for different types of foods. Campers prepared and grilled a variety of meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables, and desserts to eat and share with friends.
Cash Cultivators camp taught campers the basics of money, spending, and savings. They learned about the history of currency, how money works in the modern world, basic budgeting, the importance of saving, using credit wisely, and entrepreneurship. The youth were able to take an in-depth tour of Centennial Bank, one of the camp’s sponsors along with Jessica Johnson of Wakulla Investment Properties, and participate in a spending simulation where they had to make important financial decisions based on family size and income.
There were also two weekly day camps led by Teresa Hatler, one of the Wakulla 4-H volunteers. Wildlife Ecology camp, held at Woolley Park in Panacea, taught campers about ecology and provided them with hands-on opportunities to experience nature. Interactive camp lessons included instruction by guest experts on fish, plants, animals, insects, and reptiles. Weekly activities included a bike rodeo, arts and crafts, as well as a flag raising and retirement ceremony.
Gardening Camp met weekly at the Extension office in Crawfordville, where the campers got hands-on experience in plant identification, garden planning and preparation, planting, and harvesting. Participants also learned how to cook fresh from the garden recipes using produce freshly picked from the Extension garden including hummus and jam.
The final camp of the summer was our Sew Much Fun day camp, where members of the American Sewing Guild taught youth the basics of machine sewing. Campers learned about the parts and pieces of sewing machines and how to use one, which they used to create a variety of handmade items to wear and share, including aprons, pincushions, table runners, microwave cozies, and pillowcases.
What Does Summer Camp Give Kids?
Luann Dough, whose grandson Mason was a camper this summer, said for him, camp “is a positive environment where he is networking with new people, learning new things and coming home with an accomplishment that he has made something he thought he could never do.”
Mason said participating in 4-H summer camps has “given me the opportunity to do new things that I would not have done without these camps and to meet new people.” Mason participated in the Coding, Cash Cultivators, and Sewing day camps as well as the week-long residential camp at Camp Timpoochee, which was his favorite.
Extension summer camps are hands-on, educational, and lots of fun. They also fill up fast on a first come, first serve basis. Advertising for them begins in late March or early April, so mark those calendars and reserve a spot early. Look for notices in this newspaper as well as on the Wakulla County Extension Facebook page as the time for enrollment gets closer.
Summer camping programs through the Wakulla 4-H program provide local youth with fun, hands-on educational opportunities in a safe environment. Extension faculty, staff, and volunteers are background checked and trained through the Wakulla 4-H program and are excited to share their time and expertise with youth to teach them new skills and enrich their lives.
All participating youth were registered through 4-H online, where they signed up as short-term members and chose which camps they wanted to join.
For more information about these and other youth educational opportunities through Extension, please call our office at (850) 926-3931.