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In Kentucky, 4-H camping is not just a summertime activity. The state’s four regional camping facilities offer opportunities for education and exploration year round.

“Through our camps, our college has the opportunity to impact Kentuckians throughout the year,” said Darrell Stillwell, principal extension specialist for 4-H Camps. “Four years ago, we hired full-time camp directors, and they have been instrumental in helping us make the best use of our camps by partnering with their communities to meet the needs of their regions.”

Since 2016, these partnerships have resulted in many specialty camps that are focused on a specific topic or interest. Kentucky 4-H averages 12 specialty camps a year. While some of these camps are region-specific, others are open to youth from across Kentucky.

West Kentucky 4-H Camp in Dawson Springs has recently incorporated more agricultural opportunities into each camping session to connect youth to their farming heritage through hands-on experiences. North Central 4-H Camp in Carlisle hosts both day and overnight environmental education camps for more than 6,500 people each year. Lake Cumberland 4-H Camp in Jabez has partnered with the National Guard to provide camping opportunities to military youth whose parents are deployed. J.M. Feltner Memorial 4-H Camp in London partnered with the Kentucky Fire Commission to host their Junior Firefighter Camp in 2018.

Kentuckians have taken notice of 4-H’s efforts. In recent years, the 4-H Camping Program has seen a 35 percent increase in enrollment due to the introduction of the specialty camps and an increase in attendance in their traditional summer camps. The result is 35,000 people visiting a Kentucky 4-H Camp each year.

—Katie Pratt