Frequently Asked Questions About 4-H Summer Camp

How do I receive information regarding Junior 4-H Camp for my son/daughter? 
Junior 4-H Camp is planned through your local Cooperative Extension Office. Contact your local extension office for registration information for your child. All queries sent to the Center will be forwarded to your local 4-H Extension Agent.

How old does my child have to be to participate? 
Junior 4-H Camp is for children ages 9-13 years old; however youth ages 14-18 can serve as teen volunteers for Junior 4-H Camp.

When is my county/city (4-H Unit) at 4-H camp? 
Junior 4-H Camp runs from June through August;  

Who will be supervising my child while he/she is at camp and what are the supervision ratios? 
Campers are supervised by teen volunteers, adult volunteers, and 4-H Center Program Staff who have all received documented training regarding their roles in camp. The minimum supervision ratio for Junior 4-H Campers is 1 counselor/staff member to 7 campers. This supervision ratio is met or exceeded at all times of the day. 

How safe/secure is 4-H Camp? 
All 4-H Camp programs are approved by the Risk Management Department at Virginia Tech and the American Camp Association. Camper, counselor, and staff member safety is of the utmost concern at the 4-H Center. All programs and activities are designed to be as safe as possible, with the understanding that there are inherent risks involved in certain activities. Visitors must report to the Welcome Center to receive a Visitor's Pass and be given permission to be on the property by the Camp Director. The 4-H Center has policies and procedures in place to make the property as secure as possible. The 4-H Center employs a professional security company (Securitas) to oversee nighttime security at the 4-H Center. They provide a trained, professional security guard who is on duty from 10:00PM-6:00AM each night. 

How can I communicate with my child? 
We value the time that children have at camp away from their every day lives. It is a unique opportunity to grow and learn alongside peers. Outgoing phone calls, text messages, and emails from campers are strictly prohibited except in extenuating circumstances. Letters, postcards, and other written communication is strongly encouraged and the staff ensures that every piece of mail your child sends makes its way to our mailbox.
We also encourage parents to send care packages (no food, please) and letters to their campers, and thanks to modern technology you are also able send one-way emails to your child while he/she is at camp. Since you are sending one-way emails your child will not be able to respond. To do this you must register through BunkNotes, the 4-H Center's one-way email provider. Contact your local extension office for registration information.

How are teen and adult volunteers chosen?
The process varies for each local Extension Office, but must include the following: a completed application, reference checks, interviews, and background checks for those 18 and older. All adults and teens who are chosen to be volunteers at camp must complete a minimum of 24 hours of training prior to attending 4-H Camp. 

How are 4-H Center Camp Staff members chosen?
As with most jobs, interested persons must first complete an employment application. Applications are reviewed by the 4-H Center Program Director and candidates who meet the minimum qualifications will be offered interviews. Selected candidates will have references checked and may be offered a position. This highly competitive process ensures only the best staff are chosen to work at the Skelton 4-H Center.
All staff members have certifications, training and/or experience related to the activity area(s) that they will be instructing and undergo approximately two (2) weeks of intensive training.
A criminal background and sexual offenders check is completed for all 4-H Center employees and adult volunteers. Employment at the 4-H Center is contingent on a clean criminal and sexual offender record. This policy applies to all Center employees, not just the Summer Camp Staff.

What type of training do teen/adult volunteers and 4-H Center Camp Staff members receive?
Teen and adult volunteers must complete a minimum of 24 hours of training prior to attending 4-H Camp. Volunteers are oriented to many aspects of camp including the 4-H Center policies and procedures for summer camp, youth behavior and acceptable discipline, and their specific duties in camp.
4-H Center Camp Staff members complete two weeks of training prior to the summer. Staff members receive training in their specific activity area(s), teaching techniques, learning styles, and policies and procedures. All 4-H Center Camp Staff members are certified in first aid and CPR. 

What is the philosophy/mission of Junior 4-H Camp?
The philosophy of Junior 4-H Camp follows the philosophy of Virginia 4-H: To provide youth with learning opportunities that provide active participation, requiring them to use their hands as well as their minds.
The mission of 4-H is to assist youth, and the adults working with those youth, to gain additional knowledge, life skills, and attitudes that will further their development as self-directing, contributing, and productive members of society. 

What is the background of the Camp Director?
There are two Camp Directors for each week of Junior 4-H Camp. The 4-H Center Program Director and an Extension Agent serving as Camp Director work together to provide the overall supervision of the 4-H Camping program each week. Both are employed by Virginia Cooperative Extension and both have extensive training and experience in youth development and the supervision of camping programs. The Extension Agent is largely responsible for the overall supervision of the youth and volunteers; while the 4-H Center Program Director is largely responsible for supervising and trained 4-H Center Camp Staff as well as directing the logistics of the program and facilities. 

Are you able to accommodate campers with special needs?
Programs at W. E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake are open to all, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, veteran status, national origin, disability, or political affiliation. Many of our buildings and programs are accessible; however, if you desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations for yourself or your child please contact your local Cooperative Extension Office and the 4-H Center Program Director at least two (2) weeks prior to your camp date. We also recommend that you visit the 4-H Center to be able to fully understand the property, facilities, and any additional challenges that may be faced by you or your child. All attempts will be made to accommodate additional needs for participants. 

How do you address homesickness and/or any other adjustment issues?
Homesickness and other adjustment issues are to be expected in both new and returning campers. Each case is handled on an individual basis and is treated as a serious concern since each camper's health, well-being, and happiness is of our utmost concern.
With that said, our volunteers and paid camp staff are trained in how to work with homesick campers. It is our goal to help campers cope with being away from home and being "homesick" so that at the end of the week they take many fond memories back home with them and are excited about returning next year! In the event a camper is homesick, many tricks of the trade are available...i.e. setting up meal and bedtime "rituals", keeping them busy in activities, giving them a "camp buddy" to get to know and hang out with, setting up check-in times with counselors/staff members, and much more. If these efforts are not successful OR if your child is overly distressed you will be contacted by your Extension Agent to discuss other possible "cures" including, if needed, picking your child up from camp. Please understand it is our goal to help share the joys of camp with all children who visit us and to help them overcome homesickness.
Did you know that you can help prevent homesickness before camp starts? By reassuring them that they will make new friends, learn new skills, and have fun at camp you will prepare them to be away from home for the week. Additional preparation can come by reassuring them that "things will be the same" when they return home and that you "can't wait to hear all about camp when I see you on Friday!" Please do not tell your child that he/she can "try out" camp or that you will pick him/her up if he/she is not happy.

How does the camp address discipline issues?
Continuing with the philosophy of 4-H and Junior 4-H Camp we attempt to create an opportunity for campers to learn from their behavior and understand the consequences involved. All camp participants sign a Code of Conduct form that outlines the behavior that is acceptable at 4-H Camp and the consequences for not abiding by the Code of Conduct.
There is absolutely no corporal punishment allowed at any time at W. E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center or in any other 4-H program. Any serious discipline issue will include consultation with the parents by the Extension Agent and/or 4-H Center Program Director. 

 What are the health care facilities like? 
The 4-H Center employs two (2) Camp Medics each summer. The Camp Medics are typically certified E.M.T.'s or Registered Nurses and are considered on-duty at all times while campers are on the 4-H Center property. The 4-H Center is equipped with an infirmary (Health Center) that allows for treatment of most illnesses/injuries typically associated with camp.
The Camp Medics follow specific treatment procedures that are outlined by the 4-H Center's advising physician. Any treatment that is outside of the training scope of the Camp Medics is handled by local E.M.S. or other medical professionals (Emergency Room, 4-H Center's Advising Physician's Office, Eye Doctor, etc.). All medication (prescription and over the counter) is kept and administered by the 4-H Center Camp Medics. Written logs are kept for all medications administered and all treatment given. You will be contacted if your child has an overnight stay in the Infirmary or needs additional medical treatment that would be provided outside of the 4-H Center.