Head, Heart, Health, Hands. These four words have guided
generations of youth on their way to becoming healthy, involved adults. This
month, you and your children can investigate 4-H by visiting the thriving San Carlos/Eaton Hills 4-H club (www.SanCarlos4-H.org).
4-H attracts kids through enticing activities, like
woodworking, computer programming, shooting sports, beekeeping, sewing, and
backpacking. After a few years in the
club, our youth develop into leaders, with strong public speaking, citizenship,
and community service skills. A recent hands-on workshop with a surgeon introduced teen members to surgical techniques (see photo).
Perhaps an overheard conversation best sums up the club’s
atmosphere. A few years ago, one visiting mother asked another while watching the
club’s officers lead a meeting “Do you know if this club offers electronics?”
The response was “Who cares? These are the teenagers I want as role models for
Today’s teen members pass down skills they learned from prior generations of young leaders. Those skills include such things as leading meetings, caring for animals, and craftsmanship. A nine-year-old wrote about a graduating senior:
I’m going to miss Peter because he was a spectacular teen leader. He was nice and helpful when I had a hard time sawing the wood in the woodworking project.
Older members learn to welcome and engage the younger children, so the newcomers quickly feel that they are part of this great organization. The club works with local organizations, such as the San Carlos Lions Club, neighboring 4-H clubs, and the San Mateo County Fair, to weave the youth into the larger community.
4-H’s works to create tomorrow’s leaders by instilling the values and skills of leadership, citizenship, and community service in today’s youth. Of course, the path to that future can pass through fun activities. A 12-year-old boy wrote about his backpacking experience:
We went to Castle Rock State Park and I was the first one to get to camp because I ran the whole way with my twenty-pound pack. When we got there we pitched our tents and went on a 3 mile day hike. After that, we made freeze-dried macaroni and cheese, which was disgusting, made smores, and stayed up late playing games around the campfire. It was awesome.
Adults learn through 4-H as well. The club expects and encourages parents to help out and there are many opportunities. Some adults work directly with youth, and others support the club behind the scenes. While looking at a list of volunteer spots, one adult asked “Can I do that? That’s a skill I’d love to learn.” Others take great satisfaction in helping shape a young person’s life. One teen wrote about her experience working with an adult on a Beginning 4-H project for young children:
The project leader of the Beginning 4-H project has been one of the most encouraging people I have met. She graciously welcomed me in the Beginning 4-H family and she made me feel at ease. She congratulated me when I succeed and reassured me when I stumbled. I thank her for the opportunity to touch the lives of so many young people.
Boys and girls, ages 5 to 19, are invited to join 4-H. There’s more information at the club’s website, www.sancarlos4-H.org. The club usually meets the third Tuesdays of the month. The first meeting of 2013 will be held at 7 PM on September 17th at Clifford School in Redwood City. That’s a great opportunity to learn if 4-H is a good fit for your family.