If you went to summer camp, you remember the smell of sunscreen and bug spray, the taste of your mom’s packed lunch, or the responsibility of having money to buy your own. You would feel the hot sun on your skin and beg to go to the waterfront. Hearing the endless sounds of laughter and making so many new friends. These are the memories that we never truly forget. It is a core memory that shapes who we are as people.
Times have changed and more kids are staying inside. It is not as safe as it once was, and kids cannot go out by themselves or walk to the corner store to get some ice cream. However, they can still have the opportunity to explore North Florida and all it has to offer youth through 4-H summer camps.
Rain or shine, kids played and participated in a wide variety of activities. 4-H camps brought youth into an outdoor classroom where they explored ecosystems, food sciences, pottery, ceramics, how to paddle a kayak, and much more. Youth learned so much through daily trips to museums. Places like Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, touring the Old Capitol, experiencing a butterfly garden, and touring Pebble Hill. Campers also cast their first ballot, deciding their favorite ice cream at the Taylor County Supervisor of Elections office. Many could stick their hands in the cold water and touch horseshoe crabs and starfish. We also went to the beach with large nets, getting covered in sand, to see what we could find. Local teens took part in helping with camps and banking some much-needed community service hours. They also had the opportunity to become a certified scuba diver through 4-H Dive Camp.
Summer is coming to an end and youth are trading their sunscreen for school supplies. That does not mean that all the fun and adventures must end. There is so much you can take from camp and apply to life. As the kids are growing up you can see them making some of those recipes for breakfast or telling you how to make a bracelet. Though youth only have so many summers before adulthood. The memories they make and the friendships they create will guide them throughout life. Keep making the best better!