Extension Highlights Annual Report 2015 - Page 7

Earlier this year I wrote an article about the benefits of a camp setting for children between the ages of five and seven based on research, and that Hidden Valley 4-H Camp would offer a new Cloverbuds Day Camp program. Now that we are on the other side of the camp season it is a good time to reflect on the success of the Cloverbuds program.

As stated in the article, our young attendees did experience hikes, arts and crafts, science activities as well as interactions with new peers they had not met before. As predicted, the Hidden Valley 4-H Camp offered a program based on Positive Youth Development as well a one that interacted with nature. What we did not predict were unexpected successes that made the Cloverbuds a very special addition to the Hidden Valley 4-H Camp.

First, we did not expect Cloverbuds to be such a morale booster for camp. We know that camp is always fun and that our eight to seventeen year old campers bring amazing energy and enthusiasm each week. However, the addition of the young Cloverbuds raised the bar on fun. Their infectious laughter kept all campers, staff and administration smiling through the day and we all began to look at camp through a fresh new lens. They engaged in every activity with excitement and curiosity. Seeing camp through their eyes made us realize that our property is special, that our camp is beautiful and that everything about camp is fun.

Second, our Cloverbuds made everyone want to spend time with them. Several of our counselors realized they had talent and interest in working with this age group. Cloverbuds provided a level of professional development that works directly with our mission of Positive Youth Development – our adults learned from our youth while the youth learned from adults. Another unexpected success was how many of our older teen campers requested time to work with and assist our Cloverbuds. Our teens were further enriched in the 4-H mission gaining life skills such as responsible citizenship, leadership, concern for others and self-responsibility. The Cloverbuds created a new environment of young adult learning.

Finally, we expected our Cloverbuds to experience personal growth through our hands-on, interactive approach to programming. What we did not expect was to see the amount of growth each week. One example of this took place in swimming. Most of our Cloverbuds arrived with the inability to swim past the shallow end or even put their faces in water. By the end of the summer, every Cloverbud went underwater and most of them developed skills to swim in deeper water. We also did not expect many Cloverbuds to take advantage of our Thursday night sleep over option. Each week five to eight children stayed in their cabin with their Day Camp Director and counselors. This overnight opportunity developed their confidence to eventually enroll as residential campers when they enter the regular camp program. They participated in our closing campfire event, went star gazing and played flashlight games until bedtime.

We expected great success when we started the Cloverbuds Day Camp. We were confident that camp offered great programming, staff and a beautiful facility. However, the successes we did not expect made the summer so much more special for all of us. We love our Cloverbuds and cannot wait until we see them again in 2016!

A Whole New Level of Fun

Cloverbuds Day Campers at the

Hidden Valley 4-H Camp

Cloverbuds Day Campers at the Hidden Valley 4-H Camp

Cloverbuds Day Cam