Summer camp builds a lifetime interest in the outdoors worldDICK PINNEY
Guide Lines March 25. 2012 11:49PM
WHEN I WAS a child, summer camp made a huge impact on my young life, with the experience woven right into the fabric of my existence. My mom Eva knew that this immature 9 year-old needed to satisfy his love of the outdoors, and with a waiver of the age limit got me signed up for a week at 4-H camp at Bear Brook.
This didn't work out all that well, as we had a hard time keeping up with the older kids on hikes and in the swimming sessions, but we survived and actually became totally devoted to the idea of summer camp.
My next summer camp experience came the summer after eighth grade, when lifelong friend Brad Conner and I were chosen to be assistant counselors at a YMCA camp in southern New Hampshire.
Then the YMCA opened up a day camp at Newington's Peverly Brook (actually two ponds separated by a dam) and we went to work there for a couple of summers as assistant counselors. Great work for a junior high school kid!
We were thrilled when the Piscataqua Fish and Game Club, of which I had been a junior member from the age of 12, selected and sponsored me to attend the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests conservation camp, also at Bear Brook State Park.
We ate this up, being immersed in hunting, fishing and conservation at that early age. But that wasn't the end of our summer camp experiences. Eight kids from that camp were selected to attend the Forest Society's Conservation Camp for School Teachers at Lost River Reservation and we were one of them. It was a real hoot to be with those teachers, and being treated as their equal.
The impact all those summer camps, and especially the experience of being given a little bit of extra responsibility was hard to measure, but my whole life of being involved in natural resources conservation may be traced in large part to those experiences.
Never before has it been more important for adults to help connect youngsters with the natural world. Summer camp is still one of the best places to do that.
One special program is Fish and Game's and UNH Cooperative Extension's Barry Conservation Camp in Milan, which for 25 years has been giving New Hampshire youth outdoor skills they can enjoy all their lives.
New Hampshire Fish and Game's Jane Vachon has provided us with a rundown of the programs being offered this summer for boys and girls aged 8-16: 4-H SHOOTING SPORTS: June 24-29, 2012. Ages 10-16.
Cost: $475 A week centered on the New Hampshire 4H Shooting Sports program.
MINI-CAMP: June 30-July 3, 2012. Ages 8-12. Cost: $285 This abbreviated session will include three nights and four days, and is perfect for firsttime campers and younger children.
AQUATIC ADVENTURES/ LET'S GO FISHING: July 8-13, 2012. Ages 10-16. Cost: $475 Enjoy fishing, plus canoeing, archery, campfires and more.
4-H ON THE WILD SIDE I: July 15-20, 2012. Ages 10-14.
Cost: $475. Experience nature and reunite with the great outdoors. Create a meal from gathered plants, fillet a fish and cook it over an open fire, sleep under the stars, climb a mountain, swim in a pond, create nature crafts.
HUNTER EDUCATION: July 22-27, 2012. Ages 12-16.
Cost: $475 Join N.H. Fish and Game Department Hunter Education staff, volunteer instructors and camp counselors to learn and practice safe, responsible and ethical hunting. Campers who successfully complete the online Hunter Education Course prior to coming to camp are eligible to earn a hunter safety certificate.
4-H ON THE WILD SIDE II: July 29-August 3, 2012.
Ages 12-16. Cost: $475. The theme of this week is similar to Wild Side I, but designed for slightly older youth. Paddle on a remote lake, explore local wildlife, learn outdoor survival skills, and enjoy lots of traditional camp activities like campfires, swimming, hikes, outdoor activities and more.
To select camp programs and register, visit http://extension.unh.edu/4H/4HCamps.htm or e-mail 4Hcamps@unh.edu or call (603) 788-4961.
Dick Pinney's Guide Lines column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Readers may e-mail him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.