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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

First-of-its-kind 4-H camp is big success

STILLWATER, Okla. – Going to a 4-H camp has long been a favorite activity of club members around the state. However, this opportunity has posed somewhat of a challenge for some 4-H’ers – until now.

A brand new camp, Blast Off to Better Health with 4-H, recently opened up the door for a group of a dozen 4-H’ers with special needs, said Cathy Allen, 4-H curriculum coordinator at the State 4-H Office at Oklahoma State University and coordinator of the camp.

“This new camp gave these club members the opportunity to do many things they may not have ever had the chance to do,” Allen said. “Because the facilities at Central Christian Camp in Guthrie, Oklahoma, are fully handicapped accessible, our campers were able to zip line, play human foosball, go on a hay ride, participate in yoga and many other activities that previously may have been out of reach.” 

She added that while some of the campers were a bit hesitant to try some of these new activities, they were excited and proud of their accomplishments when they finished.

Not only was this a great opportunity for the campers, it also was a learning and leadership-building opportunity for other club members.

“Each of the campers had a specially trained Clover Buddy to assist them the entire time they were at camp,” Allen said. “This is just another example of the wide array of opportunities offered to all of our club members in an effort to help them become better citizens and leaders.”

Mary Lee Hainzinger, a member of the Braden 4-H Club in Osage County, served as a Clover Buddy to 12-year-old Austyn Lee White-Richards, who is a member of the Varnum 4-H Club in Seminole County.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with kids, but this is my first time one-on-one with a special needs child,” Hainzinger said. “I think what I learned is these kids want to be treated just the same as everyone else. I also feel it is a big honor for the parents and educators to trust us with these children.”

White-Richards, who said he hopes there is another camp like this next year, indicated meeting Hainzinger and playing Simon Says were his favorite things about camp.

“I also really liked the hay ride, even though it wasn’t scary,” White-Richards said.

He also said he likes being in 4-H because “it makes me a better person.”

For the Regnier-Nelson family of Beaver County, this camp was more of a family affair. Dannie Regnier-Nelson, along with his brother, Johnathan, served as Clover Buddies, and their younger brother, Simon, was a camper.

“The best part of this camp was spending time with the kids who are like my youngest brother,” Dannie said. “It’s easy to be a friend here at camp. I’ll most definitely come back and do this again.”

Shayla Regnier-Nelson said it was nice for her youngest son, Simon, to be in a place where he’s the norm.

“This was the perfect place where he can be himself and the other kids are at his speed and on his level,” Shayla said. “When we got to camp to pick up our boys, it was easy to see Simon had made new friends.”

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CUTLINE INFORMATION: Austyn Lee White-Richards, a member of the Varnum 4-H Club in Seminole County, prepares to zipline with the help of Josh McClennahan, executive director at Central Christian Camp in Guthrie, Oklahoma. (Photo by Todd Johnson, Agricultural Communications Services)

Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)
trisha.gedon@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000