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4-H Camp, Energy Express to be online

The Energy Express Summer Reading Program also is changing as the pandemic continues. Kids will still get free books and activities and followup will be done through phone calls and postings to a special Facebook page. They will also be putting together reading activities in 30-minute segments done in partnership with PBS and will be shown on television. (Image Provided)

PARKERSBURG — This year’s 4-H Camp will be online and the Energy Express Summer Reading Program will be going through changes due to the pandemic.

Jodi Smith with the Wood County WVU Extension Service said 4-Hers will attend Camp URL, an alternative version to WVU Extension Service 4-H residential camps.

“Since we can’t have face-to-face camp this summer since WVU canceled all residential 4-H camps for the summer, we are having Virtual 4-H Camp statewide where the youth can log onto Zoom to do some of the traditional camp activities that we do.”

Campers can engage in virtual and at-home experiences, including S.T.E.M. activities, outdoor recreation, charting and more, while still forging and maintaining lifelong friendships, organizers said. County camps will still provide students with valuable learning opportunities, including leadership development, problem-solving and creativity.

The participants will be online for maybe an hour or so each day during the week-long camp. Then they will be given assignments and materials to work on their own or through Zoom classes.

“They will be able to earn digital badges for the work they do,” Smith said. “They will also be able to earn a headband.”

In the past, only campers in leadership positions of the camp tribes got the headbands during camp.

“This summer every youth who participates will have the opportunity, if they complete the assignments to get a commemorative headband just specifically for this summer,” Smith said. “A headband is a signature item only given to our camp leadership. This summer is the first time all campers will have the opportunity to earn a headband specially designed to commemorate this virtual summer!

“Our younger campers ages 5-8 years of age will also earn some great prizes for participating this summer!”

Digital badges can be earned by Camp URL participants, ages 9-21, for completing head, heart, hands and health activities.

The camp will be free this year and organizers will not be charging anyone to participate as they have donors, grant funds and money available from the 4-H Leaders Association and the local 4-H clubs to help cover the costs of things like a commemorative T-shirt, class supplies to do the various projects – like a cross stitch nametag, a friendship bracelet and more. The camp dance class will be offered in a virtual format. Games will also be offered that allow the kids to interact.

They are also going be offering a cooking class and providing the food for the class. They will also offer Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) classes with the related supplies that kids can do on their own or log in to a training session on how to complete it through a Zoom class.

“There are still a lot of opportunities,” Smith said.

During this camp, campers can engage in virtual and at-home experiences, including a variety of activities, outdoor recreation, charting and more, while still forging and maintaining lifelong friendships, organizers said.

Wood County 4-H Camp will take place June 15-19 for ages 9-12 and June 22-26 for ages 13-21. The 5-8 year old youths can also participate during the week of June 15-19 in activities specifically designed for this age group.

This year’s theme is “Still Green in Quarantine” and Smith said “it will focus on our motto — “Making the Best Better” and showing everyone how resilient 4-H members are in tough times, and it gives us a chance to put what we’ve been teaching at camp for years to the test — respect, friendship, service to others, strength, and leadership.”

“Moving camps to a virtual format can offer students an opportunity to still spend some time gaining wonderful life skills, meeting new people and engaging in unique activities that they might otherwise never have a chance to try,” Smith said. “We are offering opportunities to sign up for some traditional camp classes in a virtual setting.

“Some classes will be able to be completed at home with instructions for families and kids to do together.”

Registration needs to be in by June 10.

“The kids still get the chance to get together with their friends, even if it is in an online format,” Smith said. “They still get the chance to work with their tribes and come up with some of the stuff they would have come up with for camp, funny stunts and more they can share with the larger camp group.”

Changes are also being made to the Energy Express Summer Reading Program as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The award-winning summer reading program will look different this summer due to COVID-19 and social distancing, Smith said.

Children enrolled in the program will receive a free book each week to add to their home libraries.

“Kids will still be able to get free books every week and they are going to get supplies and activities to complete the art and writing components at home,” she said. “The mentors we hire, the college students who work with the kids, are going to make contact with the kids every week, just like they are doing right now with schools.”

Contact will be done more through phone calls, e-mails, newsletters, Facebook social media pages for the mentors to be able to work with the kids, Smith said. Additional activities, which are science related, will also be offered through the Facebook page.

They will also be putting together reading activities in 30-minute segments done in partnership with PBS and will be shown on television. These programs will focus on reading, writing, art and drama.

“Where the camp is being conducted virtually, this is being done remotely,” Smith said.

They are working with Wood County Schools on summer meal delivery programs where the college student mentors they have will be able to meet some of the kids as they will also hand out the packets and books to the kids through that along with the meals, Smith said.

Participation in the program is free.

“Although the program might look different, it will still be designed to make reading fun and engaging for your child,” Smith said.

Any child entering 1st – 6th grades in the fall is eligible for this program.

People can apply online for the Energy Express Reading Program at https://wvu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV–2lfqgQ1NJie9tGJ

People may also print out the application and send it to the local WVU Extension Service Office by going to EnergyExpress.wvu.edu and downloading a fillable .pdf. People can email the application to Jodi.Smith@mail.wvu.edu.

An online link for sign up for Virtual 4-H Camp is expected to be available soon.

“The important thing to remember is all of these programs are free so there is no cost related to these programs this summer,” Smith said.

For more information on both programs, people can contact Smith at (304) 424-1960.?

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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