Hello, California 4-H! My name is Eve Dowdell and I am on the State 4-H Camping Advisory Committee. The Camping Committee is responsible for planning and running the State Camping Conference, collecting and analyzing Camp Survey Data from all over the State, and assisting and providing resources for 4-H Camps throughout California. This is my second year on the committee and I have loved being a part of this fantastic group of 4-H-loving folks! Being on this committee not only has introduced me to great people and experiences, but also has educated me on the importance of 4-H Camp. I wouldn't have the deep attachment to 4-H Camp had I not learned about what it means to 4-H'ers throughout the state, country, and globe.
Although my active involvement on the State 4-H Camping Advisory Committee enables me to delve into the “nitty-gritty” of 4-H Camp, that's not the only thing fueling my love for 4-H Camp. Most of my fellow 4-H'ers share my love of 4-H Camp because of the friends we have, the crazy songs and skits we perform, the yummy meals we eat, and, of course, the beloved memories that we make at 4-H Camp each year. Whether they're from Snow Camps, Day-Camps, or Resident Camps, our many camp memories are sweet (though recently “bittersweet”) and ignite our desire to go each year.
Alright, before I continue, let's do a test. I want you to think about how you feel when you read these words:
How did those words affect you? Did you smile? Did you feel reminiscent? Are you picturing yourself and a friend singing a wacky camp song together? (Hahaha, I am, too.) What about this next phrase?...
“4-H CAMP MEMORIES”
Wow...what a rush! 4-H Camp memories will last forever.
Okay, if you've never participated in camp, particularly 4-H Camp, then you're probably feeling a little left out. 4-H Camp is a place where all of us can come together to build one another up through fun, skillful, and personable adventures, and sometimes in wacky ways.
I hope you enjoyed that test. It was to remind us of the many camp memories that accentuate our life experiences. These memories aren't just images or flashbacks. These 4-H memories, like so many other 4-H moments, are the foundation of our 4-H experiences. As this unprecedented 4-H year continues onward, I hope you take some time to think of camp memories and how they build our character and enhance our personalities. I know 4-H Camp is an important part of my 4-H experience, and I imagine it is (or will be) for you as well. That being said, I also hope to inspire you to share your own 4-H Camp memories.
Personally, I have a collection of memories that always populates my mind when I think of camp. One of my most memorable camp memories is my first time playing Kajabi Kan-Kan. Simply put, Kajabi Kan-Kan is an active, rotating game of tug-of-war. The point of the game is to be that last person standing as you rotate around an object. This intense game of strength, agility, and quick thinking can be complicated, but extremely thrilling.
For my county camp's tournament, the boys and girls compete separately. After both groups compete, the top-three boys and top-three girls go head-to-head in the Kajabi Kan-Kan finale. The girl group was made up of 18 girls who competed for the top-three spots to play against the boys. The reason this memory is in the top-ten of my favorite camp memories is that I was the last girl standing out of all the girls who competed and the third-to-last camper standing in the Finale round. It was an exhilarating experience! When I think about it, I still have a hard time believing I lasted that long!
Another exhilarating, amusing, and, dare I say, terrifying memory at camp was swimming to the buoys with my brother. I'm sure many have had the … “pleasure” of plunging into the icy-cold lake water at Summer Camp. Well, my first and only time doing it was during my last stay at camp in 2019. My brother and I decided before we arrived at camp that we would swim to the buoys at least once during the week.
Every year at camp I end up trying something new that feels outside my element. So, the task of venturing out into the great unknown with my fierce companion was no different. I had no idea of the task at hand. Once we had finally touched the buoys, we stopped to enjoy the stunning view. However, it only lasted about two minutes before we had to swim back to shore to defrost. The swim was crisp and daunting, and the water was so cold that I felt like I was being zapped with bolts of electricity.
This adventure was definitely my fondest, most daring memory of 4-H Camp. It along with many others has taught me how to remain confident and calm in unpredictable, or electrifying situations.
4-H Camp is great for improving your resilience, improving your teamwork, and especially stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Whether by making new friends, playing volleyball, or performing a skit or song at campfire, 4-H Camp is the place to develop and practice your social skills. Capture the Flag is my favorite team-building camp activity because I am able to run and tag Rival teammates, while strategizing with my team (#blueteamrocks), and ultimately capture the opposing team's flag.
A memory I have of playing Capture the Flag occurred at 4-H Camp while I was guarding my team's flag. Rival teammates had made it past the first line of security and were approaching me...and the flag. It was now my responsibility to keep my team's flag safe from the now circling opponents who were trying to grab the flag and bolt. Unfortunately, one of the Rivals breached our last line of security, grabbed the flag, and began, just as I said, to bolt for their side. I yelled to my fellow guardians, “THEY GOT THE FLAG!!!” You wouldn't believe how fast my entire team shifted gears, grouped together, and raced to tag the Rivals. Happily, we tagged them before they reached their side, thwarting their chance of victory over us.
I think of this one memory every single time I think of 4-H Camp and Capture the Flag. The same memories may not seem that extraordinary to others, but that's what makes them special. These are my very own memories, and they are what makes camp special for me.
Camp allows us to do and learn things that we never thought we'd do otherwise.
Many of my fellow 4-H'ers have had the privilege and opportunity not only to attend 4-H Camp, but also to leave camp with new friends, new favorite meals, and of course, new memories that make 4-H Camp the fabulous adventure it is. Every summer, we look forward to the week of camp and the endeavors it brings.
My first year at 4-H Camp enabled me to learn skits, sing camp songs, do responsible camp chores, and connect with 4-H'ers from all over the county. My fellow bunkmates and I also found the time to stay up late talking about Marvel, Star Wars, and our other favorite things. These moments were memorable because we formed strong bonds that still tie us together today.
One of my favorite things about camp is without a doubt the fun, but I delight in its predictable unpredictability, too. I always expect new and surprising adventures, songs, activities, and opportunities to make lasting friendships every day at camp.
As many counties still wait for the big decision of whether or not their camp will take place this summer, take time to remember some of your own favorite camp memories. Share them with your friends and family. Maybe post them on your social media with some hashtags like: #4HCampMemories, #4HCamp, #4HCampisthebestcamp, or #nothinglike4HCamp. Be creative. Be inspiring.
Whether you're new to camp or a veteran 4-H camper, these are perfect times to make positive memories. We're all in this together and are working to make the next 4-H Camp experience the best one yet.