As registration for 2023 Florida 4-H summer camp programs is underway, the statewide youth development program is announcing several developments to enhance the camp experience for youth and community members.
American Camp Association Accreditation
Following a rigorous review process, both 4-H Camp Cloverleaf and Camp Timpoochee have received American Camp Association accreditation. Camp Cherry Lake will go through this review once renovations at the camp are complete.
“American Camp Association accreditation has been a goal of Florida 4-H camps for many years,” said Erin Mugge, state 4-H camping and environmental education coordinator. “Accreditation verifies that a camp has complied with up to 290 standards for health, safety and program quality. This accreditation also assures parents that the camp has had a regular, independent peer review that goes beyond regulations in most states.”
The accreditation will enable more organizations to hold events and activities at the camps outside of the summer camping season, Mugge said. It may also allow Florida 4-H to offer more scholarship opportunities to campers.
Florida 4-H is working to develop robust environmental education programs at all three camps.
“We are always looking for ways to expand the positive impact of our curriculum. Our goal is to teach environmental education programs held onsite or in the local community, and we’re looking forward to partnering with local groups and schools to reach more people,” Mugge said.
Current environmental education topics covered at Camp Cloverleaf and Camp Timpoochee include lake assessment, herpetology, marine animals, plankton studies, and kayaking.
“New programs are continually being developed to incorporate STEM, agriculture, art and more into our environmental education programs, which naturally are cross-curricular,” Mugge added.
Increasing access through open enrollment and financial aid
In 2022, the Florida 4-H Camping Program transitioned to an open enrollment model. This meant youth who were not already 4-H members could attend summer camp.
“Open enrollment has several benefits. For one, it introduces more young people to the 4-H program and makes them more likely to participate outside of camp,” Mugge said. “Around 500 youth that attended 4-H camps in 2022 were not current 4-H members, so we are excited to have expanded our impact in this way.”
Open enrollment also allows campers to choose which week of camp they will attend, and campers can now even go for multiple weeks at a time. Last year Camp Cloverleaf and Camp Timpoochee began offering both day and overnight camps simultaneously, which meant youth as young as six could participate.
Florida 4-H has expanded scholarship opportunities as well, Mugge said.
“The Florida 4-H Foundation has annually provided camper scholarship funds to youth attending camp. These state camp scholarship funds are now open to even more youth wanting to attend a Florida 4-H summer camp and in need of financial assistance,” Mugge said.
The scholarship expansion was made possible through donor support, including the Busby 4-H Endowment, Alfred I. duPont Foundation, the Boyd Family Endowment and The Florida Rural Rehabilitation Corporation Endowment.
Additionally, Florida 4-H has received grant funding to support additional scholarships for Department of Army and Air Force-dependent youth, Mugge said.
“In summer of 2022, over 80 youth were able to attend Florida 4-H summer camp on an Air Force scholarship, and we look forward to increasing our reach to Army families this upcoming summer,” she said.
Interested in supporting Florida 4-H Camping? Contact Caylin Hilton at grow4H@ifas.ufl.edu. Opportunities include camp facility investments and legacy giving.
4-H is the youth development program of the land-grant university system and Cooperative Extension System. The program provides hands-on educational programs and experiences for youth ages five to 18 with the objective of developing youth as individuals, and as responsible and productive citizens. In Florida, 4-H is administered by University of Florida/IFAS Extension and Florida A&M University.