Time to register for 4-H summer camp

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After a long winter, many children are dreaming of summer fun – and that could include a trip to a Tennessee 4-H camp.

Tennessee 4-H operates camps in Columbia, Crossville and Greeneville, and Extension agents in every county are now registering thousands of children for this summer’s adventures.

But there’s always room for more campers.

Parents interested in their child attending a 4-H camp may contact the Roane County University of Tennessee Extension office at 3074 Roane State Hwy., Midtown, or 376-5558 for information about registration.

Four-H is the youth development program for UT Extension.

The recruitment campaign includes a new promotional video highlighting the fun of camp – as seen through the eyes of a camper.

It’s hosted by Rhea County 4-H member Katie Harris, a sixth-grader from Dayton who spent a week at the Clyde Austin 4-H Center in Greeneville last year.

Katie introduces segments about camp life, laughs and goofs off during the 8-minute video – which also includes sound bites from 17 other kids from across the state who went to camp last summer.

“I’ve been to 4-H camp, and it’s amazing,” Katie said. “I want other kids to go and have that kind of fun. I thought this video would be a fun experience – and it was! – and also a great way to encourage other kids across the state to go to camp.”

Chuck Denney with UT Institute of Agriculture Marketing and Communications Services, produced the video and “discovered” Katie when he was interviewing campers.

He took Katie and her parents to the UT agricultural campus in Knoxville to shoot additional segments and have her record audio.

“When I first met Katie, I was impressed with her personality and enthusiasm,” Denney said. “About halfway back on the drive from Greeneville to Knoxville, it occurred to me – she’s your narrator. Katie is a natural, and other kids will really relate to her.”

The video “Fun, Friends, 4-H: Summer Starts Here,” can be found on YouTube.

More than 4,000 Tennessee youth are expected to attend the three summer camps in 2014.

Any child in grades 4-8 is eligible. Membership in 4-H is not required.

Children at camp can take part in activities from arts and crafts to zip-lining.

Each camp also has its own pool and dormitories, as well as nature centers, hiking trails and sports fields.

“They get an opportunity to do archery, rifle, canoeing, swimming – some things they don’t get to do at home in the summertime,” said Scottie Fillers, camp director at Clyde York Center in Crossville. “It’s all really hands-on, and we focus on getting them moving.”

The other Tennessee camps are W.P. Ridley Center in Columbia and Clyde Austin Center in Greeneville.

“My favorite part has probably been meeting new people, not just from this area, but from all over Tennessee,” said Cumberland County 4-Her Callie Strong.

Four-H agents with UT Extension also spend a week at camp with the students.

“It’s really cool that parents trust us enough to send their kids with us for a week,” said Taunee Whittenbarger of Cumberland County UT Extension.

“We just try to keep them busy, keep them engaged, and usually by Friday they’re worn out, but they’ve had a great week.”

Four-H teaches leadership, citizenship and service learning to approximately 184,600 Tennessee youth in grades 4-12.

The organization also has more than 6,100 adult volunteers in the state.

For more information, visit 4h.tennessee.edu/