Virginia 4-H helps keep feelings of ‘community and connection’

They haven’t quite figured out yet how to give kids a virtual campfire, but Virginia 4-H is moving ahead with plans for summer camp.

“We’ve had to create a way in which we can reach the 230,000 4-H members across the Commonwealth while we are currently at home,” Assistant Director and State 4-H Leader Jeremy C. Johnson of the Virginia Cooperative Extension said.

“There’s lots of ways that we’ve been able to engage young people and still bring about that sense of community and connection while learning while we’re all at home,” Johnson said.

Some 15,000 kids typically go to camp at six 4-H educational centers across the state.

To keep the spirit of camp alive, 4-H is conducting virtual experiences so campers can engage with teen counselors who have trained and worked all year to prepare.

Some children who will not spend summer camp together on-location have written and recorded camp fire song video montages together.

Some have created a rap video with celebrity chef Carla Hall promoting a healthy lifestyle.

“One of the things we’ve been able to do to help young people navigate the stressful time they may be experiencing with COVID is we are using our healthy living curricula that has mindfulness components,” Johnson said.

“Each week, we are leading workshops on yoga and ways to be mindful to be able to reduce stress in healthy ways. We’ve been able to conduct those both virtually and through resources we’ve been able to send home through various food or school distribution sites,” Johnson said.

However, some children may not have access to the internet because of where they live or they may have limited resources.

“Something we really want to ensure is that we don’t increase the equity divide and that we’re reaching all people,” Johnson said.

“So, that’s why it’s important that we’ve created a balanced approach of both online learning as well as these at-home learning resources that can be picked up either from an extension office or through one of our food distribution school partner sites,” Johnson continued.

Summer camp project kits contain what’s needed to do, for example, science or arts and craft hands-on projects while they’re at home.

4-H is a volunteer driven organization.

4-H Cooperative Extension faculty work with 15,000 volunteers across the state taking a holistic approach to child development.

“It’s using the Head, Heart, Hands and Health approach to be able to allow young people to develop the skills that will allow them to be successful today and well into the future,” Johnson explained.

You can learn how to get involved with 4-H on its website.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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