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Brooke, Hancock 4-H camps going virtual

With activities involving the outdoors and a variety of skills, Brooke and Hancock County 4-H summer camps will be going online this year.

For some time the camps have been open to youth ages 9 to 19 who are not members of 4-H clubs, but organizers hope the pandemic-spurred virtual version will attract many more to day and residential camps held at Tomlinson Run State Park when they resume.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids who have never been to camp to see what it’s like,” said Jason Rine, Brooke County agent for the West Virginia University Extension Service, which sponsors the camp and clubs.

“We’re also very excited to offer it free,” said Rine, who joined Carole Scheerbaum, Hancock County extension agent, in announcing the virtual camp.

Scheerbaum noted that through a private Facebook page and Zoom videoconferencing, participants will be able to meet other youth and engage in a variety of activities from the comfort and safety of their homes.

“Despite the distance, campers will be engaged in opportunities to learn, connect with others and provide service to the community,” she said.

Rine said campers may learn folk dancing, solve the mysteries of a virtual escape room, stargaze using a mobile app that aids them in identifying constellations and create a backyard obstacle course for their families.

“We’re hoping to post some video of that,” he said.

The camp will run from July 13-17 and employ videoconferencing to bring campers together for opening and closing ceremonies and a virtual experience presented by Adventure West Virginia, a West Virginia University program that normally provides outdoor experiences for first-year students.

Rine said the online component will be supplemented with packs of materials to be picked up at the Brooke County extension office in Wellsburg or Hancock County extension office in New Cumberland on July 10.

Parents and other guardians are asked to register their youth no later than Wednesday, to ensure a sufficient number of materials are available, by calling (304) 737-3666 or (304) 546-3807.

Youth without Internet access may also participate using the materials only. All participants who complete at least six activities will receive a Virtual 4-H Camp headband.

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