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4-H to go on summer adventure

Learning to canoe is just one of the many new skills these children picked up at 4-H camp. The Betsy Jeff Penn 4-H Camp is located on 250 acres of land outside of Reidsville. (Contributed Photo).

It’s that time of year again. Another school year almost gone by, summer a yawning abyss of time that children need to have filled. But how does one fill it?

According to Louise Hinsley, a Beaufort County extension agent (4-H youth development), part of that time may be filled by scaling climbing towers, swimming, horseback riding, canoeing and more at the Betsy Jeff Penn 4-H Camp near Reidsville. And any child age from age 8 through age 14 may join in the fun.

“You do not have to be a 4-H club member to attend (the camp) with our Beaufort County group,” said Hinsley.

Hinsley said the camp has more than 250 wooded acres where children may take part in “age appropriate, small group experiences in an enjoyable, noncompetitive environment.”

Activities for the day include those previously mentioned as well as archery, crafts and environmental studies. Hinsley said the evening hours would be filled with a talent show, games, campfires, dancing and an awards ceremony.

Those with more a more adventurous spirit, who fall into the 12-to-14 age range, may join in with two advanced groups, Trekkers and Adventurers, which fall into the “adventure-based programming,” said Hinsley.

Adventurers learn outdoor-living skills, rope/harness climbing and camp at one of Camp Penn’s outpost sites for two days. Trekkers learn canoeing and rock climbing, then use their new skills to go offsite on a canoe and rock-climbing trip.

“We help youth in our county have a camping experience they will always cherish,” said Erin Massie, also a Beaufort County extension agent.

Camp Penn is operated year round by N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, through N.C. State University. The Beaufort County 4-H group will take on its adventure from July 29 through Aug. 3. The total fee for the week is $465 a person, which includes food, lodging, charter-bus transportation to camp, a camp store card and a camp T-shirt.

For parents reluctant to send children off on their own for summer camp, Massie would reassure them.

“The separation is harder on the parents than the camper,” said Massie. “Campers adjust quickly as camp residential staff are ready to greet them. They have so many fun things to do at 4-H camp, the campers stay engaged.”

Hinsley has her own childhood experiences with 4-H to draw on.

“I am product of five years of 4-H summer camp and have great memories of it,” she said. “Yes, it was hot, we had bug bites and wet shoes with blisters — it was summer camp.”

As a tenured 4-H agent for the past 25 years, she said she still loves 4-H camp.

“I look forward to going this summer and seeing those children change before my eyes: from the timid youth without a friend on the bus on Sunday to the camper that smiles with a tear on Friday when we say farewell,” she said.

According to Gladys Barnes, extension secretary to the 4-H agents, registration for the Beaufort County 4-H group is in progress and more than half of the available spaces are filled. Spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information about 4-H camp, call extension agents Louise Hinsley or Erin Massie at 252-946-0111.