Youths learn in­de­pen­dence at sum­mer camp “

The Covington News - - OPINION -

Get­ting your young ones to branch out on their own is a tough thing to do, but it’s part of hu­man na­ture, and in fact all na­ture.

It brings to mind an episode of “The Andy Grif­fith Show” in which Opie plays with a new sling­shot and ac­ci­den­tally kills a song­bird. Opie then takes it upon him­self to raise the mother’s baby birds, dig­ging up worms each morn­ing for Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod.

One morn­ing, Andy calls Opie out onto the porch for a talk.

“You re­mem­ber you took over this job be­cause they lost their ma? Well, there is that one lit­tle thing that she would have done, and that’s to let them go. Let them be on their own, be free like they was in­tended to be,” Andy said.

Opie wor­ries, “But what if they can’t fly away? Maybe I didn’t do all the right things?”

He, of course, demon­strated what a re­spon­si­ble young man he was by do­ing his best to right a wrong and raise the birds, but he also learns a lit­tle about in­de­pen­dence when he re­leases each one.

It’s the same thing we ask par­ents to do each sum­mer as we head to 4-H sum­mer camp.

By age 9, we know that chil­dren devel­op­men­tally should be ready to at­tend five days and four nights of camp. It helps if they’ve at­tended shorter camps and sleep­overs in the past, but we find that most kids do just fine even if they haven’t done those things.

Just like Opie learned, though, the tough­est job is left to the par­ent.

As our busses pull out of the park­ing lot for Clover­leaf camp, most of the kids are cheer­ing and al­ready plot­ting fun with their friends.

The par­ents wav­ing good­bye have the tough­est task: hold­ing all the tears un­til we’re off.

While at camp, kids se­lect their own clothes each morn­ing, choose how to spend their pocket money and help out with chores. They’re ex­pected to fol­low a sched­ule with­out be­ing lined up with an en­tire class and es­corted ev­ery­where like school.

If some­thing doesn’t go their way, the campers have to learn to work out prob­lems with each other and to seek the help of 4-H lead­ers, teen lead­ers and coun­selors if needed.

Dur­ing free time they can go rock hop­ping in the creek, splash down the wa­ter­fall, swim in the pond, or play vol­ley­ball or bas­ket­ball with other 4-H’ers, or even just sit and chat with other kids. (We don’t have time to watch tele­vi­sion, play video games or text!)

Camp is all about do­ing some­thing you wouldn’t or­di­nar­ily do. It is ex­cit­ing adventures, new friends and amaz­ing mem­o­ries.

Lots of kids will go back to school in Au­gust hav­ing watched a mil­lion re­runs on tele­vi­sion or hav­ing played 100 rounds of Candy Crush, but how many will be able to talk about con­quer­ing the climb­ing wall, fly­ing on the zip line, pan­ning for gold or mak­ing 200 new friends?

Some of those friends will be there for a life­time, like the three who were at my wed­ding last sum­mer.

So as Andy told Opie about his birds, “You did all the right things; I ex­pect they’ll be able to fly.”

Sum­mer camp sign-up for youths who were at least age 9 by Dec. 31, 2013, is from 7-9 a.m. Satur­day, Feb. 15, at the 4-H of­fice in the Newton County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, 1113 Usher St., Cov­ing­ton. Space is lim- Lots of kids will go back to school in Au­gust hav­ing watched a mil­lion re­runs on tele­vi­sion or played 100 rounds of Candy Crush, but how many will be able to talk about con­quer­ing the climb­ing wall, fly­ing on the zip line, pan­ning for gold or mak­ing 200 new friends? ited.

Clover­leaf Camp at Wah­sega on June 23-27 in­cludes youths through sixth grade.

A $100 cash or money or­der non-re­fund­able de­posit saves your space.

The re­main­ing cost of $210 is usu­ally paid in March and April, or you can re­quest other pay­ment sched­ules.

A credit-card ma­chine may be avail­able, but please call ahead to be sure we are op­er­a­tional by that date.

Sixth- to eighth-graders head to Wilder­ness Chal­lenge Camp at Wah­sega 4-H Center July 14-18 for $344, and sev­enth- and

Terri Kim­ble Fuller­ton is a Newton County 4-H Agent through UGA Co­op­er­a­tive Ex­ten­sion. She can be reached at tkim­ble@uga.edu.

TERRI KIM­BLE FULLER­TON

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