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Cooking classes, scavenger hunts and science experiments are all popular summer camp activities that Georgia 4-H youth will still be able to do this year — just at a bit of a distance.

After much thought and concern for the health and safety of 4-H staff, volunteers and youth participants, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and Georgia 4-H made the difficult decision to cancel residential camps for the 2020 summer season. In a typical year, more than 9,000 youth would have participated in these programs and will now be looking for other activities this summer.

As an alternative to residential camps, Georgia 4-H has created a virtual summer series called “Set Sail with Georgia 4-H” to provide youth with entertaining and educational lessons and adventures.

The activities cover a variety of topics including agriculture, STEM, leadership and healthy living. These virtual programs are offered in a variety of formats, such as livestreaming sessions, video series, solo activities and more. The series is updated weekly with new programs and will continue until school resumes in August.

“Some of my favorite 4-H experiences as a kid include the incredible summer day trips and workshops offered by my local 4-H program,” said Jason Estep, Extension 4-H Specialist. “Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, our 4-H professionals have continued to create and offer innovative programs that are every bit as engaging and unforgettable as the ones I experienced as a kid — they’ve just been moved to a virtual format. We are proud to showcase and open some of these virtual programs to a statewide audience.”

The series is a cruise-themed collection of statewide activities for youth of all ages. Participants can select a track, or “cruise,” based on grade level. The U.S.S. Cloverbud Cruise is designed for youth in kindergarten through grade three. These activities, or “excursions,” are interactive and entertaining. The Cloverleaf Connections Cruise, for youth in fourth through sixth grades, includes fun and hands-on excursions. The Junior Jamboree Cruise includes a variety of experiences for youth in grades seven and eight. Youth in grades nine through 12 will enjoy the Senior Summer Spectacular Cruise, filled with exciting, practical and even tasty excursions.

“Georgia 4-H teaches youth to adapt to change and find opportunity in challenges,” Estep said. “While the pandemic has restricted our ability to interact in person with the youth we serve, virtual programming allows us to maintain the youth-adult partnerships that are vital to positive youth development. It’s also helping us reach some entirely new audiences.”

Registration free and open to the public for the programs. To start cruising through summer, visit georgia4h.org/setsail.

Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 242,000 people annually through the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit georgia4h.org.

Cristina deRevere is the public relations coordinator for Georgia 4-H.
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