Mon County kids participate in summer activities at 4-H camp

MORGANTOWN — Down a country road of its namesake, Monongalia County kids come together each summer for 4-H camp at
Camp Muffly.
Deb Dean, a 4-H volunteer, said though not all the campers are involved in 4-H clubs, all are invited to participate in 4-H camp.
“When they are with us, they are part of us … everyone’s very comfortable, everybody’s very inviting and open,” said Dean.
Dean has been involved in 4-H for
44 years. She’s been a leader for 35 years. She grew up in the 4-H program and her grandparents were her 4-H leaders.
Dean said 4-H is traditional and family oriented. She has two children of her own who aged out of 4-H, and even her young grandchildren already know
4-H songs.
Kids rotated activities, making things like friendship bracelets, shooting air rifles and making rocket launchers throughout the day. They make organic connections with friends each summer, given they aren’t allowed to be on their cell phones during camp.
Helen Honecker, Abby Duncan and Bailley Howell are three campers in the Seneca tribe. They said it’s really fun to come to their tribal meetings and see their friends at camp. Honecker was wielding a spirit stick, and said whoever gets the most tribal points will take the spirit stick home.
“You do the stuff that you like and
it’s never boring. You always are
having fun no matter what you’re doing,” said Howell.
Becca Fint-Clark, Extension agent for 4-H Youth Development, was involved in 4-H as a child. She grew up in the Preston County 4-H program. She’s been for 4-H agent in Mon County for 11 years.
“Every year we have a committee that meets monthly and we talk about the different theme ideas so it’s completely youth-led,” she said.
This year the kids chose Harry Potter as their theme. Campers made butter beer and decorated around the theme.
Button-making was been a hot
topic at camp. Fint-Clark said the campers love their buttons, toting them on their lanyards.
“It kind of makes you appreciate the old school kind of ways. You like to think of kids at camp making buttons and singing songs,” she said.
Fint-Clark said 4-H camp allows campers to be who they are without fear of judgment. Everyone is celebrated and accepted as they are.
“They like to come here and be away from their parents. They get to make decisions. They get to learn new things they wouldn’t learn otherwise,” said Fint-Clark.
She said camp evolves over the years, incorporating things like STEM activities but the traditions still holdfast.
“My daughter is coming to day camp for
the first time ever next week. She is so pumped. She’s so excited about it,” she said.
Though kids do not have to be involved in 4-H outside of camp, there are community clubs that meet throughout the school year. These clubs teach kids how to give back to their communities and pick service
projects that will help others. Fint-Clark said the skills learned really set them apart.
“They always know how to speak, how to carry themselves. They have good public speaking. We teach them independence, how to be a part of a team but also leadership skills,” she said.
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