HEDGESVILLE – For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 4-H members gathered on Saturday at Camp Frame in Hedgesville, where about 21 4-Hers have registered for Tri-County Craft Day Camp.
“It was important to bring the kids back to where they were before,” said organizer Mike Withrow, Berkeley County extension officer. “Today is that first step.”
Withrow shared that the 4-H camps and activities traditionally held at Camp Frame have been on hold since the start of the pandemic, including cancellation for the current year. Although the clubs were unable to meet in person, Withrow said the 4-H schedule is far from stagnant.
“We didn’t take a break,” Withrow said. “The clubs met virtually and our Camp in a Box program was a huge success in all three counties. “
The day camp held on Saturday may be revealing of how the in-person deployment is going, Withrow said, adding that day-long events focused on special interests are being planned before the end of the summer and autumn.
It was obvious that the kids who joined in the craft fun on Saturday were happy to be there. Groups could be seen dyeing towels, painting canvas bags, creating their own art during unscheduled hours and more.
Additionally, the campers worked on a service project to make dog toys from old shirts to donate to the Berkeley County Humane Society.
Mikayla Hargis, the summer intern at the Berkeley County Extension Office, said the children would have about 100 dog toys to donate by the end of the day on Saturday. Some were created earlier in the summer programs, offered in conjunction with Berkeley County schools. Hargis explained that she spent part of her summer leading different activities, including some at camp on Saturday.
“I work to emphasize the importance of community service and help,” said Hargis, referring to the dog toy project.
Kira Gillions, 10, a member of the Appalachian Clovers at Spring Mills, said dog toy crafts were her favorite of the day.
Gillions has only been a member of 4-H for a year, it all happened online. So she was especially thrilled to be in person with other club members at Camp Fame.
“Crafts are my favorite,” said Gillions, sharing that her family has an adopted dog, which is one of the reasons making dog toys is especially important.
She shared stories of the Humanitarian Society visiting to see the dogs on multiple occasions.
“It’s important so that the dogs can have something to play with,” said Gillions.
Withrow said activities like Craft Day resonate with members like Gillions and are likely to cause lasting positive memories.
“By the end of the 4-H years, many are giving back as counselors and in other ways,” Withrow said. “These 4-H kids care so much about the program that they want to share the benefits of the program.
Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties offer a variety of clubs, including specialty clubs that focus on areas such as horses or shooting. Information can be found on the websites of the extension offices in each county or on https://extension.wvu.edu.