YELLOW SPRINGS — All Preble County youth ages eight (and in the third grade) through 13 had the opportunity to experience a Dr. Seuss-themed 4-H Camp at Camp Clifton in Yellow Springs last week.
Oh the Places You’ll Go! was the theme of the week, as the campers got to experience everything from campfire and fishing to a ropes course. Not only did Preble County youth get to experience the camp, but teenagers worked as camp counselors, getting to spend a last few years in an environment many grew up in.
Camp took place from Saturday, June 30, through Wednesday, July 4.
According to Preble County 4-H Educator Christy Millhouse, for many kids in Preble County, 4-H Camp is the highlight of their summer.
“It serves a lot of purposes. Not only is it the opportunity for kids to get unplugged, but it may also be the first time many of them learn to be away from home and be with other kids,” Millhouse said. “For some of them, they have to learn the responsibility of taking care of themselves. The campers learn a lot of life skills, but they also to have a lot of fun.
“We have a staff of teenage counselors and they start planning camp in January. It is a huge commitment, but it is their job to make everything happen. You have this awesome group of teenagers who are making everything happen.”
During camp, there are programs like swimming, Field Olympics, Water Olympics, campfire, a ropes course, and more. This is the second year Preble County camped at Camp Clifton. According to Millhouse, this camp offers more opportunities for the kids — like the high and low ropes course.
Millhouse added, “4-H camp is not just for those in 4-H, we open it to any youth in Preble County. Again, it is an opportunity for them to have fun, gain life skills, and meet new people. You’re seeing kids who are not from one school district, but they’re here as a big family having fun.”
Camper Cheyeanne Epperson is in her last year of 4-H Camp, but hopes to be a counselor in upcoming years.
“Throughout my years, I have met a ton of new people. This is my last year as a camper, so I’m going to apply as a counselor next year, which I’m really excited about,” she said. “It is really fun. There is so much to do. Today, I had survival skills and I learned how to make a fire. All kinds of different things. There are so many great things you can do at camp. I grew up with some of the people who are here.
“I’m really excited for next year to maybe be a counselor and to grow closer to people.”
For Carley Asher, Jasmine Mabry, and Cole Whitesell it is their last year as camp counselors, which they explained as a “bittersweet experience.”
Whitesell said, “I think 4-H camp is really great and important for a lot of the campers, because it is the first time they are by themselves without parents or siblings. It is a big step for them to come to camp. Sometimes they struggle a little bit, but we get to see them enjoy the week and do this on their own.”
Mabry added, “At fair everything is restricted to what animals you show, so you know people who show your animals, but this allows us to get to know people who show other animals. I think that is one thing that is really neat.”
“A lot of the kids here are shy at first and they get to meet a lot of new people, not through their school,” Asher agreed. “I’m kind of sad this is my last year, but I’m also ready to move onto the next stage of my life, but I will always have my memories here.”
“It is bittersweet, you get to an age when you’re ready to move on and do other things – allow the younger ones to fill your shoes, but like she said, we will have these memories forever,” Whitesell said.
4-H Camp is for kids who are eight and in the third grade, or nine and in any grade, through 13. Camp counselors do not have to be former campers. Registration materials are released in march. More details can be found through the extension office.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH