I Found Myself at 4-H Camp
It’s not very often that someone reflects on defining moments in their life but when I take a moment to reflect on my life so far, the biggest influence that comes to mind is the eight years I’ve spent in the 4-H program and how the 4-H program has shaped who I am, and also helped me understand who I want to be.
I started going to 4-H camp when I was 8 years old. When most people think of 4-H camp, they immediately think of farming but our camp is the only 4-H camp in the area that is not agriculturally based, it is centered around leadership. When I was a younger camper, I did not necessarily understand what being a leadership camp meant but I knew I respected and looked up to the teens in our camp and hoped to someday become one of them and achieve that same respect and level of impact.
In the summer before 9th grade, I became part of the Teen Leader program, which was mainly focused on leadership. We did a lot of team building within the program and I started to take on a lot more responsibility with younger campers. The following year I got promoted to a junior staff, which is another leadership-based program.
In the fall of my freshman year of high school, I became a member of the Connecticut 4-H Teen Ambassador Program. This program consists of teens from all over Connecticut and even a few out of state. Within the Connecticut Teen Ambassador Program, we meet once or twice a month to do community service projects, discuss important current issues and figure out new ways to help around our community and within our 4-H programs.
During this time, I was also learning to engage a group or speak to a crowd. Sitting in a group of 50 or so teens we would pass around a microphone and share something, literally anything about ourselves. One person would say they got their driver’s license or aced a test and the next person would say that their socks didn’t match. I didn’t realize it at the time but this was a leadership exercise focused on confidence and the ability to speak to a crowd, to reach an audience. This confidence was something that helped me realize I want to work with children and help them develop their natural abilities.
I have helped plan a teen leader weekend conference with other teens from around New England. I’ve developed my public speaking skills by giving presentations about the New London County 4-H Camp and Teen Ambassador program at the Big E. I’ve gotten to experience once in a lifetime experiences.
In 2017, I was selected as one of the forty-three delegates to represent Connecticut at the annual Washington Focus trip in D.C. On this trip I was able to meet so many different people from across the United States while developing my communication, leadership and citizenship skills. I’ve learned so many skills and learned what I love to do, and I love working with people, especially kids.
Through all my work with the 4-H program I have gained more of a leadership role, it has made me realize I want to pursue a career in education of young children. I strive to be someone that kids can look up to.
As I end my 4-H story, I reflect on how grateful I am that I became part of the 4-H Program and now have the privilege to be in a leadership role to give back to children as they start their own 4-H story.
By Chloe Smith