4-H'ers get a good jump on first day of school

“Blue Birds” 4-H/summer camp participants at Hickory Tree, near Selbyville, started gearing up for their first day back to school after summer vacation with the receipt of backpacks stocked with school supplies on Aug. 29.

Site Coordinator Dennis Rhodes remarked on this year’s program — field trips to putt-putt golf, the Rehoboth Art League and the Biggs Museum of American Art (Dover). “I think the kids have had a good time,” he said.

Closer to home, there’ve been swimming and crafts — and 4-H activities, of course. However, as Rhodes pointed out, as the country became less and less rural, those activities had expanded to encompass things like electronics, rocketry and photography.

Or, coordinators could come up with “do your own” activities — Rhodes anticipated Camp Counselor Melanie Chin, with a background in broadcasting, might run a personalized activity along those lines, or maybe do something under performing arts.

The group is now preparing to enter its Hickory Tree 4-H after-school component. Rhodes said that typically comprised an hour of supervised homework time, then 4-H activities, then straight-up recreation time.

Parishioners from St. Martha’s Episcopal (Bethany Beach), wanting to reward the 20 campers for their attendance over the summer — and to encourage a positive school attitude — “adopted” campers and provided the book bags, lunch boxes and materials suggested by the Indian River School District.

Referring to bygone days when older St. Martha’s parishioners’ children were still young, a letter from the church noted, “The opportunity to participate in ‘back to school’ activities has brought back memories of their own children, or of nieces and nephews.

“In some cases, the parishioners enlisted the aid of their grandchildren to shop for items that are ‘cool’ and appropriate,” the letter continued.

The young students seemed quite enthusiastic, both over their new gear and the prospect of seeing classmates and teachers again.

Rhodes, Chin and St. Martha’s Rev. Bill Wickham helped pair up the youngsters with their respective book bags on Aug. 29, collected thank-you notes and distributed homemade chocolate chip cookies and other snacks.

Blue Birds 4-H is run by the University of Delaware — College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Housing Authority, and jointly funded by the Criminal Justice Council and Delaware Department of Education (DEDOE), 21st Century Community Learning Centers, grants.