To the editor:
Canoeing, campfires, swimming and even swatting a few annoying insects are all a part of 4-H summer camp. It lasts only a week, yet memories endure for life.
I am worried that some fifth-graders in Rockdale County might not get to experience 4-H camp. This year, we had 22 applicants for full or partial summer camp scholarships. Many requests are from single parents trying to make ends meet; those who have lost their jobs, have medical expenses or from those facing unexpected expenses.
The cost for a week at Camp Rock Eagle in Eatonton is $240, which includes transportation, food, lodging, a T-shirt, water bottle and all activities. Thanks to the generosity of our annual camp scholarship donors, we have raised $2,910 to send 16 of the applicants to Rock Eagle, but we still have six 4-H'ers who we don't have funds for. We need another $1,160 to get them to camp.
Any amount of money will help and donations are tax-deductible. Even partial scholarships will make a difference. In the past, we've had donations from businesses, civic groups, individuals and even families who don't have kids or whose children had a good experience at 4-H camp when they were in the fifth grade.
As part of the application, we ask for a detailed budget to make sure applicants are really in need. One applicant showed that she had no money left from her income each month after bills were paid. The family had been recently without a home and didn't have cable or a home phone, yet the family was asking for only a partial scholarship. That's how badly their child wanted to go to camp. This family is willing to sacrifice even more to send their child.
For many fifth-graders, 4-H summer camp is a chance for them to be away from home for the first time. They enjoy time with others in their peer group away from their parents where they can build self-esteem and self-confidence, make new friends, and learn how to be self-directing young people.
Campers have the opportunity to take a variety of classes, which offer hands-on experience in archaeology, archery, photography, pond ecology and canoeing, to name but a few activities. Also, at Rock Eagle, the campers learn about Native American heritage and the mound builders who were in the region more than 5,000 years ago and left an eagle-shaped rock mound at the Rock Eagle site.
If you would like to help send a deserving 4-H'er to camp, donations can be sent to the Rockdale County 4-H Club, 1400 Parker Road, Lobby A, Conyers, GA 30094. For more information, call 770-785-5952.
Rockdale County Extension 4-H Agent