Lily is a new 4-Her who just joined her county program in the fall of last year. She’s never been to 4-H camp before but she’s excited to give it a try after hearing all about it from the new friends she’s made in her 4-H club. She’s excited, but also a little scared. She’s never been away from home for a week, but her friends keep telling her how much fun it is so she’s willing to give it a try. They’ve told her that she’s going to be filled with excitement when she loads the van with them to go to camp, that she will meet the coolest counselors, have great fun singing songs and eating s’mores around the campfire, and that she will get to try all sorts of new things she’s never done before.
In any normal year, Lily’s anticipation for summer camp describes the experience of hundreds of youth in North Carolina who can’t wait to get back to camp or try it for the very first time. But this is not a normal year. In January, as our camp team has done every year since 1939, we started planning all of the fun for summer camp 2020. No one had any idea how quickly and drastically the world was about to change around us.
Summer camp is fundamentally a physical, place-based experience that emphasizes fun while learning. At its most basic level, summer camp is an experience. It’s fun, it’s sweaty, and it forges memories and relationships that last a lifetime. 4-H summer camp – like so many aspects of young peoples’ lives this year – just won’t be the same. But that doesn’t mean we can’t give our youth a fun experience that still provides the connections, entertainment, and learning of traditional camp. We just have to do it in a virtual space.
On June 22 we will kick off a week-long experiential event that will use technology to bring us together and connect us with the outdoors. The NC 4-H Summer CAMP OUT! is a free virtual camping experience that will feature some of your favorite 4-H camping traditions like a dance party, slide show, trivia night, Arts & Crafts, and a virtual campfire. Families will have an a la carte menu of organized camp activities to choose from so you can invest as much or as little screen time as you want. The week’s activities will culminate in a Friday-night backyard (or living room) CAMP OUT complete with some of your favorite camp songs, skits, and s’mores. This isn’t traditional 4-H summer camp, but it is a completely new experience that will keeps us all grounded in the essential elements of camp. We will still make memories that will last a lifetime. This time however, those memories will come from connecting with friends new and old online, finding nature in your very own backyard, and joining hands with your family around the campfire.
For more information about the NC 4-H Summer 2020 CAMP OUT!, please contact Angela Brisson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the event on Facebook for all the up-to-date details, including when registration opens for this event.