Many youth and adults across the state were disappointed in 2020 when Georgia 4-H made the difficult decision to cancel summer camp due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a typical summer, over 8,000 children ages 9 and up, accompanied by over 1,000 adult and teen leaders, travel annually to Georgia’s unique 4-H centers for a week of camp that will be remembered and cherished for years to come. Every camp offers adventure, friendship, and fun, and all seek to develop the camper’s Head, Heart, Hands and Health to make him or her a better person. Of course, last summer was anything but typical. However, camp is back this summer!
Forsyth County 4-H offers a variety of week-long summer camp opportunities to local youth in 4th through 12th grade. The first camping experience that youth can participate in as a young 4-H’er is Cloverleaf Camp. This camp is open to 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. This summer, Forsyth County 4-H staff and volunteer leaders chaperoned 30 youth at Rock Eagle 4-H Center July 6th through 9th. During the day, campers were able to learn about the natural world around them through classes such as herpetology, forestry, and lake ecology. They were also able to challenge themselves by learning to canoe, how to safety use a bow and arrow, and compete for the coveted Tribal Shield!
Rock Eagle is the world’s largest 4-H Center housing over 800 campers each week throughout the summer during a normal year. However, this year Georgia 4-H is operating a half capacity to keep campers as safe as possible. Rock Eagle 4-H Center was named after the stone effigy that was built by Native Americans, so 4-H’ers are divided into three Native American tribes. Throughout the week, the tribes compete by cleaning up their areas, being on time for classes and events, and of course having some classic summer camp cheer-offs! During the evenings, everyone at Rock Eagle enjoys dances, a variety show performed by the college aged counselors, and a Native American history presentation.
The week of camp at Rock Eagle wraps up on Friday morning when all three tribes gather to find out which group won the Tribal Shield. Win or lose, this is sure to be a week that youth remember for years to come! In fact, some youth enjoy camp so much that they continue to go to Cloverleaf Camp as high school students. Youth have the opportunity to become teen leaders once they reach high school. This summer, Forsyth County 4-H took two teen leaders to summer camp. Mackenzie Kimbarl says that she wanted to be a teen leader after her first year at summer camp. Her favorite part of being a teen leader is helping younger students have an exciting summer camp experience. After Mackenzie graduates high school, she hopes to become a summer camp counselor with Georgia 4-H at Wahsega 4-H Center in Dahlonega.
For more information about the 4-H Program or how to get involved, please call the Forsyth County Extension Office at 770-887-2418 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In Forsyth County, 4-H is supported by The University of Georgia, Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, Forsyth County Board of Education, and United Way of Forsyth County.