March 3, 2020
Re-imagining Kansas 4-H Camp
At this year’s Program Rally, we had an opportunity to update Extension professionals on the future direction of Kansas 4-H Camps. We wanted to take a moment to share information relative to that update and the ongoing transition process.
As we look to the future, we want to acknowledge and build upon our rich 75-year history of Kansas 4-H Camp. This history affords us a wonderful foundation from which to re-imagine camp and ensure a first-class learning experience across our organization for camp as a delivery mode. Over the last twenty-four months the University, Extension, the Kansas 4-H Foundation and Rock Springs itself have undertaken exhaustive program reviews, a master planning protocol, and other activities all designed to enhance and modernize our camping programs. Three main program components were deemed critical to our future success:
- Accessibility - every child in Kansas should have the opportunity to experience 4-H camp
- Relevance - 4-H camp should focus curriculum on preparing participants to be leaders in their clubs and communities
- Risk Management - industry standards must be followed to ensure safe and secure experiences for our youth.
You may also have heard some rumors regarding the content of the presentation at the Program Rally. We want to clarify and ensure we are all on the same page. With this in mind, please note the following:
- Pricing will change but has not been set. There is an ongoing commitment to providing camperships for those in need.
- Session length may change. We are exploring models that allow for a more robust immersive experience that would bring us in line with industry best practices.
- Central registration is being considered. Having direct contact between the camp provider (in this case Rock Springs) and the families facilitates a safer, more accurate and responsive system.
- The role of Extension professionals during the recruitment process and at camp is yet to be determined, but it will not go away. A successful 4-H camping program requires a significant degree of Extension professional and volunteer engagement.
- Counselors will be paid adult staff, ages 18-25, in order to meet the American Camp Association (ACA) standards. At the same time, the commitment to serve all ages of 4-H’ers remains strong. The program will be designed to provide an age-appropriate leadership development experience for our older youth. Traditionally camps have adopted a Counselor-in-Training and Leader-in-Training model and this is likely the model we will deploy.
Over the coming months, the 4-H Camp Task Force will meet with Amy Sollock, Jim Wheaton, and our camping consultant David Phillips to refine and answer some of the outstanding issues. We promise to communicate their progress with the entire KSRE system. We are committed to transparency, engagement and ongoing growth.
We want to be clear - the Kansas 4-H Camp is a unique part of our identity. This entire effort is designed to ensure its longevity, success, and impact. With our collective effort, it will build upon the history, legend, and lore of the past and ensure another 75 years of service delivery and life-changing experiences.
Thank you for your commitment to the young people of Kansas, and for helping as we work together to grow the impact of Kansas 4-H Camping.