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Kansas 4-H Tip Sheet

March 13, 2020

Clarifying Kansas 4-H Camping Next Steps

Submitted by Wade M. Weber


At the recent Kansas 4-H Program Rally, we had an opportunity to update Extension professionals on the future direction of Kansas 4-H Camps. We now want to take a moment to share information with our youth, families, volunteers and stakeholders. First and foremost, we want to acknowledge and build upon our rich 75-year history of Kansas 4-H Camp. This history gives us a wonderful foundation from which to redesign 4-H camp and ensure a first-class learning experience.

Over the last twenty-four months, Kansas State University, K-State Research and Extension, the Kansas 4-H Foundation and Rock Springs Ranch have undertaken exhaustive program reviews, master planning protocol, and other activities all designed to enhance and modernize our camping programs. From this process, three main program components were deemed critical to our future success:

Accessibility - every child in Kansas should have the opportunity to experience 4-H camp
Relevance - 4-H camp should focus curriculum on preparing participants to be leaders in their clubs and communities
Risk Management - industry standards must be followed to ensure safe and secure experiences for our youth.

A 4-H Camping Taskforce of 10 agents has been formed to review information and develop recommendations on how to move forward. This taskforce will meet extensively over the next two years in collaboration with State 4-H Specialists, Kansas 4-H Foundation and Rock Springs Ranch staff to refine and answer some of the outstanding issues. Our goal is to implement any changes for the 2022 season. We promise to communicate our progress along the way. Please remember this is a fluid process and patience, cooperation and teamwork will be key to ensuring that 4-H camp remains strong, impactful and ready for the future.

You may have heard some rumors regarding possible changes to Kansas 4-H camp over the next two years. We want to take this opportunity to clarify and ensure we are all on the same page. With this in mind, please note the following:

  • Session length may change. We are exploring models that allow for a more robust immersive experience that would bring us in line with industry best practices.
  • Central registration is being considered. Having direct contact between the camp provider (in this case Rock Springs) and the families facilitates a safer, more accurate and responsive system.
  • Pricing will change but has not been set. There is an ongoing commitment to maintain reasonable camp fees and provide camperships for those in need.
  • The role of Extension professionals during the recruitment process and during camp is yet to be determined, but it will not go away. A successful 4-H camping program requires a significant degree of Extension professional and volunteer engagement.
  • Counselors will be paid adult staff, ages 18-25, who are trained and supervised appropriately, in order to meet the American Camp Association (ACA) professional standards.
  • A counselor-in-training program (for teen leaders) will be designed with Taskforce input to provide a dynamic, age-appropriate leadership development experience for our older youth.
  • The commitment to serve and provide an excellent camp experience for all ages of 4-H’ers remains strong.

We want to be clear - the Kansas 4-H Camp is a unique part of our Kansas 4-H identity. This entire effort is designed to ensure its longevity, success, and impact. With our collective effort, it will build upon the history, legend, and lore of the past and ensure another 75 years of Kansas 4-H camp.

Thank you for your interest in the young people of Kansas, and for helping as we work together to grow the impact of Kansas 4-H Camping.  If you have questions or clarifications, please contact me at wweber@ksu.edu. 

Wade Weber, State 4-H Program Leader and Jake Worcester, President and CEO Kansas 4-H Foundation