Overnight camp makes youth a “Better Person”

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As campers enter the driveway for their next five days at Millstone 4-H Camp, they are immediately welcomed by a quote from the former 4-H North Carolina State Program Leader, L.R. Harrill which says, “You will leave this place a different person. We hope you will be a better person.” Without realizing it, their lives were about to change just from this anxious experience at overnight camp.

Early this summer, Union County 4-H Agent Crystal Starkes took nine campers to Millstone 4-H Camp for overnight camp. The camp is located in Ellerbe, NC, which is a little more than an hour away from the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Union County Center in Monroe, NC.

For some, it was their first time being away from home besides staying over to a family member or friend’s house for a sleepover. However, for others, it is a breath of fresh air going back to camp for a second or third time to make new friends, create lasting memories, and learn something new. No matter their experience, the campers who participated in the overnight camping experience all come back a different person – a better person.

They experience change through the different life lessons they learn while away at 4-H camp. Just a few of these life skills are independence, resiliency, self-esteem, but trust me, there are many others.

Independence

As a camper, one of the vital life lessons learned is independence. Youth will learn how to become independent through the activities and experiences. Millstone 4-H Camp has different activities offered during a campers experience away from home including water trampoline, rock climbing, giant swing, zipline, stream ecology, horse trail riding, riflery, archery as well as team building activities and themed group night events like a talent show. During their stay, the campers stay in age-appropriate cabins with their counselors and their peers. Each day, the camper is required to clean their cabins before dismissing for daily activities. It is a simple task, but the independence they gain from doing that will easily transfer to their homes.

First-time camper Lily Potter, 11, shared that she was not nervous about going to camp, but this experience was her first time staying away from home. She left the camp with great experience and plans to go back again.

“It was fun,” Potter said. “I would go back again.”

Resiliency

There are so many activities at an overnight camp that may be new for a young camper. They may be resistant initially to trying it, but through the support of their peers, counselors, and instructors will actually be more willing to try it.

Evan Grier participated in overnight 4-H camp as early as he can remember. During the camping experience a few weeks ago, at 11-years-old, he was the veteran camper. However, he was not always as experienced at camp.

“The first activity that I remember being afraid to try is riflery and archery, but after I tried it. I actually liked it, and wanted to do more of it,” Grier said.

Through resiliency and support from his counselors, Grier was able to conquer his hesitation of doing the different activities. The support of the counselors is one of his favorite parts about camp.

“My favorite part about overnight camp at Millstone was the support that the counselors gave and how much they supported you if you were in trouble or needed help with something,” he shared.

Self-Esteem

The overnight camp experience is an instant self-esteem booster. Youth will learn camp songs where they have to yell as loud as they can and meet new people from different walks of life.

“I learned a better way how to make new friends and try something new,” Grier said.

Potter also made new friends during her camp experience. At the end of camp, they receive awards for all of their hard work boosting their self-esteem.

Rising sixth-grader Bryce Melton said, “Thank you Millstone for making me a better person.”

Overnight camping truly does make them a better person.