The 4-H Nature Explorers Camp experience empowering tomorrow’s environmental stewards

The 4-H Nature Explorers Camp embodies the spirit of learning, leadership, and community!

Meet Susan Weaver, the regional program coordinator for 4-H Region Seven, which encompasses the lower half of the Bay Area in California.

For the past two years, Weaver and her team have been hosting the 4-H Nature Explorers Camp in Santa Clara County, a program made possible by National 4-H funds.

The 4-H Nature Explorers Camp is a week-long immersion in environmental science where everything is designed to connect children to the natural world.

“This camp has been funded through National 4-H funds, which we’re very appreciative of so that we can provide some things as simple as a t-shirt for that sense of belonging and meals each day,” Weaver explained.

The camp collaborates with various organizations, including CalFresh, Project Learning Tree, and Cal Naturalists to provide a diverse range of activities for campers.

“We provided different subjects each day, and then on the final day, we had a festival and partnered with other agencies to provide many different activities for the kids,” Weaver said.

This festival brought experts who introduced the young campers to local wildlife, educating them about animals living in their neighborhoods and how to ensure their safety.

“We had a gentleman that came and talked about snakes and spiders and scorpions, and all different things that the kids loved and squealed and learned about those,” Susan added enthusiastically.

The camp also featured an arborist who educated the kids about the fascinating world of trees. As part of Project Learning Tree, the children had the chance to make tree coin necklaces, adding an element of hands-on learning to the experience. The impact of the camp on the young participants was palpable.

“The kids had a blast,” Weaver added. “I heard so many comments today about how much fun they were having.”

But the camp’s impact extends beyond just the children. It also offers valuable leadership opportunities for teenagers.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to provide leadership for the young people,” she explained. “Also, to have those young students see kids in roles of responsibility and imagine themselves doing that as they get older.”

One of the camp counselors, Atzimba, emphasizes the joy she finds in teaching kids.

“Their enjoyment kind of impacts you,” Atzimba said. “If you’re having a bad day, and you go with little kids, [they] kind of cheer you up because they’re just adorable. Little comments they make and the close friendship you mix with them, it just makes your day better.”

The camp also serves a vital role in the community.

“We’re serving a marginalized community in East San Jose, a bilingual charter school where they serve families from preschool through high school,” Weaver said.

By reaching out to both young campers and teen counselors, the program has a ripple effect, enriching the lives of children and teenagers alike.

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