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Camp Virgil Tate hosts Kanawha County 4-H’ers for weeklong activities

By Ben Calwell, Metro Reporter
BEN CALWELL | Metro
Wet sponge in hand, Kanawha County 4-H camper Nate Masinter, left, of Charleston, chases fellow camper Aidan Wells of South Charleston, during week two of 4-H camp at Camp Virgil Tate, which is between Cross Lanes and Sissonville. Nearly 100 campers ages 9 to 13 participated in a variety activities, including fishing, games and STEM-related projects. The first week of camp was for youth 13 and older.
Under the supervision of shooting sports instructor Lynn Reynolds, right, of Alum Creek and Brenda Bayless (not pictured), also of Alum Creek, 4-H campers, from left, Lance Busse of Nitro, Aralynn Cook of Nitro, Emma Ellison of South Charleston and Noah Gunter of Cross Lanes take aim at balloon targets with air rifles.
Preparing for an evening get-together, Kanawha County 4-H camper Katie Gorrell of Charleston hangs party decorations in the main lodge at Camp Virgil Tate. Katie was one of nearly 100 campers, ages 9 to 13, who participated in week two of Kanawha County 4-H Camp.
Brandon Lockard of Hurricane makes a cast at Kanawha County 4-H Camp. In addition to fishing, campers learned to cook and make STEM-related projects.
Griffin Tye of South Charleston gets his fishing pole ready for an afternoon of angling during the second week of Kanawha County 4-H Camp at Camp Virgil Tate.
Swint

Who knew a dripping, wet sponge could be so much fun?

During this year’s Kanawha County 4-H Camp at Camp Virgil Tate, temperatures sometimes approached 90 degrees -- excellent weather for an inpromtu game of “dodge sponge,” in which campers tried to avoid getting hit with a wet sponge.

The water hijinks, which included an inflatable water slide, were just one of many fun things campers did during their weeklong stay at Camp Virgil Tate, which is in a rural setting between Sissonville and Cross Lanes. The Kanawha County 4-H Camp lasted two weeks, with the first week geared toward older youth, while the second week, June 12-16, was designed for children ages 9 to 13.

Nearly 100 children attended the second week of the residential camp, said Sherry Swint, West Virginia University Extension Service 4-H extension agent for Kanawha County.

“It’s a residential camp, and for many of these kids, it’s their first time,” said Swint, who is better known as “Miss Sherry” to the young campers.

The campers are divided into four different “tribes.” Camp for the younger group ended with a special program on Friday, June 16.

“We end Friday evening with a big council circle, and we invite their parents to come and see the campfire program, and we also give out awards during that time,” Swint said.

During the week of camp, the youngsters participated in everything from cooking to fishing to shooting air rifles.

Campers Lorelei Wright and Michelle Foster, both of Charleston, cooked up some spaghetti, which they delivered to Swint as a lunch surprise.

“It was really fun -- every day we learned to cook something new; we learned to make chicken quesadillas and spaghetti,” Lorelei said.

“I love cooking,” Michelle said. “I cook dinner sometimes.”

The campers also had free time to play. The inflatable water slides were a big hit when temperatures soared.

During one evening, the campers played a game called “Bring Me,” where they had to go find random things and bring them back to their respective tribes.

“They had a lot of fun last night with that. The tribes competed against each other,” Swint said.

The campers also participted in a “STEM Maker Space.” STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

“We received funding from the governor’s STEM initiative grant,” she said.

For the STEM activity, each tribe had an afternoon that it could spend time making such items as rubber-band-propelled cars or “UV bracelets” that helped the campers understand ultra-violet radiation.

“At this age, I think it’s very important that the kids be exposed to different STEM activities and stimulate their curiosity in learning more,” Swint said.

Outdoor activities included fishing, sports and shooting at ballooons using air rifles.

“We have certified trainers that train them on that.”

There was also a Summer Olympics Day, “until the thunder rolled,” she said.

The 4-H program is is one of the largest youth development programs in the United States, involving more than 6.5 million young people and 540,000 youth and adult volunteers. The focus is on helping youth learn leadership, citizenship and life skills by participating in projects and service.

Membership is open to any youth when he/she is in at least the third grade and/or 9 years of age and is not older than 21. The Cloverbud program is open to youths ages 5 to 7 years of age.

On a local level, 4-H offers community clubs, specialty clubs, Cloverbud clubs, county camp(s), club outings and Achievement Banquet, and more. In 4-H, youths socialize, learn, and develop life skills in a safe, educational atmosphere.

For more information about 4-H in Kanawha County, visit www.extension.wvu.edu or call 304-720-9573.


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