Summer camps can make a difference in youth

Summer may be a few months away, but it is time to start preparing youth to learn what camp is all about.

Summer may still be a few months away, but it’s time to start thinking about 4-H camps now. Staff members around the state are developing 4-H camp programs for campers and counselors. Camp is a great way to promote positive youth development. 4-H staff members need to help make a camp successful. Camp counselors can be youth who are ages 15 to 19 years old. This group of youth can apply for a camp counselor position whether it is for a day camp, an overnight camp or up to a week-long camp. Counselors gain many skills such as responsibility, teamwork and contributions to group efforts. Counselors have the opportunity to attend trainings to learn about first aid, ages and stages of camper development, safety, recreation, team-building activities and overall camp counselor duties.

Counselors will go through an application process and then may need to complete an interview. Youth have the opportunity to view this as a real job interview. This will look good on their resumes for future job interviews. Answering questions will allow them to focus on what they really want to have happen at camp and to learn what actually does go on in a camp.

According to the American Camp Association (2010), camps employ 1.2 million adults in a variety of positions. Although directors are often full-time, year-round positions, counselor positions are usually seasonal. Often they are filled by young people as a summer job during high school and college.

Michigan 4-H youth interested in being a camp counselor have the opportunity to attend a statewide recreation and camp counselor training in May at Kettunen Center, our state 4-H leader training facility in Tustin, Mich. The workshop is open to youth 13 and older and adult leaders. The workshop runs from Friday May 4 through Sunday May 6. Youth can register through their local MSU Extension office. In this interactive workshop, participants will learn to take the lead and work together to create fun activities and learn new skills. Participants will be ready to create a plan for introducing recreation into their programs to bring back the fun in camp activities and will leave with ideas to improve their existing camp program. Registrations for this training should be received by the local MSU Extension office by April 20.

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