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Summer excitement at 4-H camp
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Georgia 4-H has the largest camping program in the nation. Rock Eagle is the largest residential camp, sleeping upwards of 1,200 campers at once. There are four, smaller 4-H Centers in Georgia though that have come to be loved and remembered by 4-H'ers and 4-H Alumni over the years: Camp Fortson in Hampton, Camp Burton on Tybee Island, Camp Jekyll on Jekyll Island and Wahsega 4-H Center in Dahlonega.

Do you remember the first time you went to 4-H Camp? I can tell you that Rock Eagle is still serving that rock hard toast, but Wahsega is no longer dishing out the sticky buns we all came to love years ago. Wahsega has not lost its charm though. It is still nestled in the mountains of one of America's first Gold Rush sites, with the continuous sound of the stream that runs the perimeter of the camp. We still swim in the pond with the fish and, yes, you will still hurt your toochie while having the time of your life in the waterfall. Oh, and who could forget going to the bath house to take showers and use the restroom? If you are wondering if we still go to the bath house in the middle of the night, 'cause ya just can't hold it any longer, the answer is, "YES!" The bath houses, KP duty, cold nights, finding fool's gold while panning, and the ever famous Bear Hunt are all things that make Wahsega a unique and fun camp to attend as a Cloverleaf 4-H'er.

If you have memories of Wahsega from your 5th or 6th grade year, I am sure that you understand the excitement of the summer 2009 campers. Over sixty of Rockdale's 5th and 6th grade 4-H'ers just got their first taste of 4-H Camp at the end of June. We all met at the 4-H Office on Parker Road bright and early on a Monday morning. After getting all of the 4-H'ers ceremoniously checked in, we boarded three school buses for the journey up to Wahsega 4-H Center in Dahlonega.

The ride up to Wahsega would not have been any fun without a couple of twists and turns for good measure. So, on the way there, we were sure to take a paved chicken trail and of course a gravel road for at least two miles. We made it up the mountain safely and still excited about camp.

After unloading the buses, the 4-H'ers piled into the Recreation Hall to get their assignments. Camping at Wahsega is a wonderful time to spend time with old friends as well as make new ones. 4-H'ers do this through the group method for activities. First each 4-H'er gets placed into one of four Family Group Rotations: the Hatfields, McCoys, Clampets, or McDougalds. While in the family groups, the campers participate in activities like the Zip line, Dangle Duo, Climbing Wall, Tubing, and General Recreation.

For opportunities to meet other 4-H'ers, the campers are then placed into one of five animal group rotations: Newts, Turtles, Owls, Bears, or Snakes. Throughout the week the campers go back and fourth from Family to Animal Group Rotations. While in Animal Group Rotations, the 4-H'ers get to learn about Forest Ecology, Herpetology (the study of turtles and snakes), Stream Ecology, go panning for gold, play ultimate Frisbee, do archery and low ropes challenges.

Whew! Those 4-H'ers are staying very busy, learning a lot, and making lifelong friends at camp. Could anyone ask for a better summer experience? If you would like to get your child involved in the 4-H Camping Program, look out for our advertisements in January and February 2010. And remember, your local 4-H Office always has use for dedicated, hard working volunteers - so if you would like more information about getting a youth involved or volunteering call the 4-H Office at 770-278-7373 or visit us at 1400 Parker Road, Lobby A, Conyers.

Shivone Wilson is your County Extension 4-H Agent.