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Day camp builds friendships, practical skills

The month of June is an exciting one for the La Plata County 4-H program, and it is filled with experiences that can positively shape our members’ lives into the future.

Currently, local 4-H members have been participating in the Adventure Day Camp program. The camp, for younger members between the ages of 8 and 12, provides an opportunity for youths to gain leadership and life skills by engaging in hands-on learning.

Each day, we work on public speaking and team building activities. Youths come from all over the county, so the camp provides a way for youths to interact with new people and form new friendships.

This year, we offered two sewing days. Thank you to Vicki Burns and Carol Godlin for passing on their knowledge and expertise. Campers went home with homemade backpacks, pillows and aprons.

We also went to the Southern Ute Museum for Southwest cultural day. The excellent staff discussed interesting history facts, stories and art. I would highly recommend the museum to anyone.

Each year, we offer a STEM day. Rocky Mountain Rough Riders 4-H Club leader Sara McCourt instructed us on how to use indigo by dying handkerchiefs. The history, science and art surrounding indigo is truly amazing. Also, Colorado State University-Western Region STEM specialist Barb Shaw worked with our youths on making rock art by exploring the paleontology and the archeology of our area.

One of the biggest 4-H projects each year is cake decorating. Janet Reinhardt taught youths about coloring, borders and other tips for decorating a successful cake. The county fair should feature some beautiful cakes this year.

Another fun day was our fiber arts day. Robert Naegle with the San Juan Wool Growers’ Association brought in some Navajo Churro sheep and explained the history and fiber qualities of this heritage breed animal. Then, McCourt taught members how to spindle and felt wool. It was a wonderful day to hopefully inspire more youths to keep these heritage arts projects alive.

We were also very grateful our new family and consumer science agent, Nicole Clark, could join us to make natural first-aid kits. We made our own salves from comfrey root and almond oil. I know this will be useful this summer.

On cooking day, chef Julia Hastings-Black taught members to create healthy meals. We also use this day to encourage more youths to participate in our Creative Cooks competition during the county fair.

Later in June, our older 4-H members will participate in some big events. First, the Colorado State 4-H Conference will take place on the campus of Colorado State University. Senior 4-H members will gain leadership skills through workshops covering a variety of topics.

We wish our La Plata County 4-H livestock judging team success at the final contest of the year. Thank you to Beth La Shell and Brad Fassett for their continued dedication and commitment to coaching this team.

Finally, our 4-H Interstate Exchange program will travel to Douglas County, Oregon, at the end of the month. The team will get some days on the southern Oregon coast, Rogue River and Crater Lake. This program always produces lifelong memories and friendships.

Greg Felsen is the La Plata County 4-H youth development agent. Reach him at gregory.felsen@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6463.

Greg Felsen