COLUMBUS, Ohio – Have a child who might enjoy snorkeling Lake Erie shipwrecks? Maybe your kid is fascinated by space and aerodynamics? Does your youngster want to spend time honing leadership skills?
The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University (CFAES) has got a camp for all of that -- and much more.
Thousands of youths across the state will participate in Ohio 4-H camps that are now or will soon be in session. Ohio 4-H, the youth development program of Ohio State University Extension, which is the outreach arm of CFAES, offers or sponsors the camps in all 88 of Ohio’s counties, said Hannah Epley, an OSU Extension 4-H camping specialist.
Last year, 17,213 youth participated in 4-H youth camping programs, Epley said. That includes 2,798 teen counselors, she said. Of those campers, 12,612 youths participated in overnight camps, while 4,601 participated in day camps.
“The Ohio 4-H program offers camp options for youths to assist developing their self esteem and to provide an opportunity for individuals to develop responsibility away from home and parents or guardians,” Epley said. “The camps also assist in developing leadership and other skills.”
In addition to the camps offered in each county, Ohio 4-H offers several statewide specialty camps, including:
- 4-H Space Adventure Camp: a three-day camp that introduces 5th-7th graders to the world of flight and science through building and testing flying machines, conducting computer flight simulations, learning about the principles of aerodynamics and gaining an overview of the development of the space flight program.
- Ohio Military Kids Camps: A multi-day camp that is designed to help Ohio's military kids become more resilient and prepared to manage the stresses of growing up in a military family. Interacting and making friends with others who are going through the same experience helps build confidence, leadership skills and a sense of community.
- Sea Camp: a five-day camp held on Kelley’s Island on Lake Erie for teens ages 13-18. The camp is designed to teach kids about the science of the lake, marine-related skills and the history and recreational uses of Lake Erie.
- Leadership Camp: a five-day camp for teens ages 15-18 that focuses on the development of peer leadership skills designed to enable participants to have an impact in their home 4-H club, county, community or school.
- Special Needs Camp: a three-day camp that features adapted activities including environmental science, crafts, music therapy, aquatic skills and horseback riding.
- 4-H Camp Tech: a three-day, two-night camp, located on the Columbus campus of Ohio State, that introduces 6th-8th-graders to a variety of activities including coding, robotics, engineering design and electricity.
The camps are open to all kids statewide – you don’t have to be a member of 4-H, said Sally McClaskey, Ohio 4-H’s education and marketing program manager.
McClaskey operates the Camp Tech, which is hosted at Ohio State's Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, and is a part of the science, technology, engineering, and math offerings by OSU Extension's Ohio 4-H program. The campers also get to spend the night in OSU dormitories as part of the camp, in order to give them a campus experience, she said.
“In addition to meeting new people and learning new things, the camps that are held on Ohio State’s campus introduce the kids to a college experience that may make them want to attend Ohio State in the future,” McClaskey said. “Summer and 4-H camp really just go together.
“It’s a nice spectrum of opportunities for kids to engage in during the summer, and it’s something that kids really look forward to.”
The cost for each camp varies and there may be opportunities for scholarships depending on the camp. More information on Ohio 4-H camps can be found at ohio4h.org/search/node/camps.