By Darla Shelden
To help families learn how to better enjoy the outdoor adventures of camping, kayaking and cooking, 4-H recently held a “Let’s Take the Kids Camping” workshop at Lake Arcadia. Around 30 participants ages 9 to 19 attended the single-day event.
“The best way to teach young people the skills they need to campout is to actually take them camping,” said Kyle Worthington, 4-H Youth Educator for Oklahoma County. “We’ve got 4-H Youth Educators from Oklahoma, Cleveland and Noble Counties willing to do that.”
Arcadia Lake, located on the Deep Fork River in an urban setting, offers water-oriented recreation each year to more than one million visitors with 1,820 surface acres and 26 miles of shoreline.
“The main thing we’re trying to do with Outdoor Adventure Programming is teach the key outdoor skills,” said Oklahoma Educator Mike Klumpp. “Whether you’re camping, hiking or kayaking, whatever you’re doing, safety is number one.”
With a 35 year career in extension work with Outdoor Adventure based programming, Klumpp says that events like the Lake Arcadia workshop teaches important 4H basics. These include leadership life skills such as communication, decision making, teamwork, management, relationships and self confidence.
“I always recommend that when you go backpacking you never go by yourself,” said Klumpp. “Go with a least one partner and ideally four. If someone gets injured one person can stay with the injured party and the other two can go for help.”
In addition to learning the elements of camping, youth learned to kayak by taking a trip across the lake. They were instructed on how to use maps and compasses, “Leave No Trace” camping and cooking on a camp stove. The educational programs and camping activities are conducted utilizing experiential learning methods, individual and group participation, and achievement.
Attaining the objectives of learning mental and physical skills creates a high level of self confidence and a sense of achievement. The program is designed to strengthen interpersonal relationship skills and to promote teamwork.
“Kids need to get outdoors to learn about the environment and that nature is very important,” said Klumpp. “Camping, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, these are skills you can use for a lifetime.”
The outdoor workshop was held at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife’s Education Center, located north of 33rd Street and Midwest Boulevard on Lake Arcadia. The center provided all the food and necessary outdoor gear for the campout.
“This was a fun day for families and youth and for participants that chose to camp overnight in a tent,” said Worthington. “This workshop is a good introduction to camping and we hope that everyone who attended came away with some strong skills in outdoor recreation.”
The four parks on Arcadia Lake include Edmond Park and Central State Park, east of I-35 on 2nd Street and Scissortail Campground and Spring Creek Park situated east of I-35 on 15th Street in Edmond.
“We teach management of resources, learning how to build a campfire, how to pack a backpack, how weather can affect a trip. You can learn what clothing is proper, whether it’s summertime or fall,” said Klumpp. “Wearing the right kind of shoes or boots is important. We also talk about basic first aid, hydration, drinking about 4 ounces of water every thirty minutes to keep yourself hydrated.”
4-H focuses on the idea of hands-on learning, and connecting public school education to rural life. The name represents the organization’s four personal development areas of focus: head, heart, hands, and health. 4-H has approximately 90,000 clubs in the United States with over 6.5 million members from ages five to nineteen. The very first collegiate 4-H club started in 1916 on the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater.
“We’re hoping that families and youth develop a life-long love for camping thanks to our workshop,” said Worthington. “This was a great opportunity for people to meet new friends. We hope we helped some people learn the skills they need to enjoy camping for a lifetime.”
“Down the road, a month, 3 months, even a year later you will realize that I accomplished that, I can accomplish a lot,” said Klumpp.
For more information contact the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Service at 405-713-1125 or visit www.oces.okstate.edu/Oklahoma.