Award-winning program brings teens together for camp training

Teens reported fun and friendships among the takeaways from the first Wyoming 4-H Counselor Camp. In Wyoming, 17 counties host or co-host summer 4-H camps.

The idea was simple: Instead of each 4-H camping program preparing teen counselors, get everyone together for a statewide training.

The result, said Kimberly Fry, 4-H educator in Campbell County, was that 21 teens in 2018 contributed more confidently and competently to the experiences of 475 Wyoming campers last summer.

In recognition of the Wyoming 4-H counselor camp, on Nov. 7 University of Wyoming Extension presented its Creative Excellence Award to the 4-H educators and state youth development specialist who piloted the program.

Group photo with award winners holding plaques
Left to right are Bret Hess, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Mary Kay Wardlaw, UW Extension associate director-east; Warren Crawford, state youth development specialist; Kimberly Fry, Campbell County; Amber Armajo, Washakie County; Megan Brittingham, Goshen County; Kelly Crane, UW Extension associate director-west; and Mary Louise Wood, Albany County.

Those receiving the award at UW Extension’s state conference in Casper were 4-H educators Amber Armajo, Washakie County; Megan Brittingham, Goshen County; Robin Schamber, Uinta County; Mary Louise Wood, Albany County; Warren Crawford, state youth development specialist; and Fry.

“This camp opened my eyes to new ideas we could bring to our camp,” said Carl Gray, a first-time camp counselor from Campbell County.

Teenage volunteers typically take on planning, organizing and teaching roles and act as group leaders, cabin leaders, friends and mentors. The April 2018 counselor training at the Wyoming state fairgrounds in Douglas was organized around 15 core competencies, said Fry.

Organizers included sections on teaching, facilitating, teamwork and leadership, child and adolescent development and camper behavior management. Participants shared practices for flag etiquette, vespers, camp songs and recreation.

Wyatt Bullock, an Albany County 4-H’er, said he hopes the counselor training continues next year. “I want our camp to get better and this would help, but also it was a lot of fun!”

For more information on University of Wyoming Extension and to find a county office, see www.uwyo.edu.