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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

October 15, 2019

2020 4-H Camp Task Force Recommendations Going Forward

Submitted by Wade M. Weber


For 75 years, Kansas 4-H camp has grown friendships, interests and skills critical for individual and group leadership development. During those years, the Kansas 4-H Foundation, through Rock Springs Ranch, has provided unrivaled support for great camp memories in a beautiful Flint Hills context. Kansas 4-H will continue to build upon that legacy as we prepare today’s youth for the leadership challenges of the next 75 years.

Over the past 18 months, many intentional conversations about the value, the history, and the future of the 4-H camping program have taken place.

• In 2018, stakeholders participated with Kansas 4-H Foundation camping consultant, David Phillips, in discussing camp programming and Rock Spring as a host camping site.
• Fall of 2018, Director of Extension Gregg Hadley, State 4-H Program Leader Wade Weber, and Kansas 4-H Foundation President/CEO Jake Worcester requested a review of the programmatic impacts and risk management processes of 4-H Camping.
• A 4-H Department internal review of risk management and program accessibility was conducted.
• A camping task force of 30 KSRE stakeholders assembled to identify the core values of 4-H camping, interact with four strategic priorities (Impact, Consistency, Access, and Safety), and identify how camp can strengthen the 4-H Youth Development mission.

The task force findings affirmed a desire to provide a premier camp experience for all Kansas 4-H youth. Challenges identified included:

• Providing two-deep adult leadership
• Lack of in-depth training for adult and youth counselors
• The need for teen youth to have a developmentally appropriate camp experience
• Lack of training for KSRE professionals
• A small percentage of KSRE professionals’ jobs actually dedicated to camp
• Assessment of impact of the camp experience
• Inconsistent risk management
• Access to camp based on calendar conflicts
• The need for better physical, mental and emotional health practices/procedures and professionals on call and accessible.

Based on the above, a decision has been made to move to a more centralized model for state 4-H camp at Rock Springs Ranch. This model will enhance the impact for all campers (particularly teenaged youth), reduce the logistical and administrative requirements on Extension professionals, alleviate the demand for Extension professionals without youth development training or experience to participate in camp, and provide significantly enhanced risk mitigation.

Thank you to the camp task force for its hard work. In order to make this transition, a new task force will be asked to work on the transition model with great intent and focus. The opportunity for Kansas 4-H Camp to remain strong and vibrant for another 75 years is in front of us!

More details are available to KSRE professionals in Camp Task Force Update 2019 at this link: https://www.kansas4-h.org/staff-downloads/camping/.