Summer 4-H Mixes Fun With Learning

Posted: July 15, 2014

David Glick, 6, (left) of New Market; Trent Strader, 7, (second from right) of Strasburg; and Maxwell Povlish, 6, (right) of Mount Jackson use trays filled with sponges and water to simulate rain runoff Monday at Summer 4-H camp at New Market Community Park. The first day of the four-day summer camp featured demonstrations from the Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. (Photos by Amelia Brust / DN-R)
Maggie Eaton, 7, (left) of New Market, and Carly Thomas,9, (right) of Mount Jackson, learn about rain runoff.
Nadia Mathews, 10, (left) and her sister Ariel, 7, (right) of Woodstock learn about rain runoff with a quick experiment at Summer 4-H camp.

NEW MARKET — Campers and teen volunteers huddled under a shelter Monday at New Market Community Park for the first day of Summer 4-H day camp.

The four-day program, open to members and nonmembers, aims to give children a balance of traditional camp activities and environmental and health education.

In her fifth year as camp director, Susan St. Amand said she sees children coming back summer after summer.

“It’s fun, but we like to throw in the educational aspect,” said St. Amand, 51.

Sixteen campers spent the morning tie-dying and then headed to the pool at about 2 p.m., until heavy rains pushed through the area.

The storm’s timing was serendipitous for a lesson plan about runoff led by Cindy Frenzel, education coordinator for Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.

Using kitchen sponges, foil pans and water, Frenzel taught campers about porous concrete parking lots and the consequences of rain runoff.

“Everybody cares about the river. Everybody cares about where the stormwater goes,” Frenzel, 51, told the campers.

The Woodstock resident has made presentations at 4-H summer camps for several years.

Four children raised their hands when she asked who wanted to grow up to be a city planner.

“These concepts work well for this age,” Frenzel said after her demonstration.

The New Market camp, sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension, is for children ages 7 to 12, while programs in Woodstock are held for ages 5 to 8 and 9 to 12.

This year’s campers came from New Market, Mount Jackson, Woodstock, Toms Brook and Strasburg.

“A few of them will travel great distances to bring their kids,” St. Amand said of parents.

Teen volunteers at the day camp earn monetary credits that can be used for any future 4-H camps they attend.

Today, New Market and Woodstock police will hold a “bike rodeo” for campers. Officers will do a bike safety demonstration, and children can bring their bicycles in for police to check for safety and tire pressure, before riding through an obstacle course.

Later in the week, the kids will tour the New Market Volunteer Fire Company’s firehouse, learn about saving money and make their own omelets with ingredients donated by local farmers.

St. Amand’s favorite aspect of the camp is “the fact that I can be creative and bring different resources together,” she said.

The camp’s programs are designed to keep children engaged and having a good time.

“We know we did a good job if the parents come in the next day and say, ‘My kid fell asleep as soon as they got home,’” she said laughing.

Contact Amelia Brust at 574-6293 or

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