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Summer Fun Camps are back: Register your kids now

By Jeanna Baxter White

Mebane Foundation

When Mebane Foundation President Larry Colbourne saw a plea in the Enterprise for sponsors for Davie County’s 4-H summer camps he immediately asked himself, “What would Allen (Mebane) do?”

Then he wrote a check.

“Allen read the paper every morning and I remember vividly how he’d call me into his office and tell me to take a look at a story he’d just read, articles similar to the 4-H one. He’d say, ‘I think they can use our help, what do you think?’ I knew all along we were going to help the organization, but he did that so I’d understand just how good it would make me feel. Now that he’s gone, I still do that from time to time, and you know what? It still feels as good as it did that first time in his office.”

4-H is the largest youth development organization in North Carolina, educating hundreds of thousands of young people each year. Sponsored by the N.Ca. Cooperative Extension, the goal of 4-H is to teach life skills, leadership, and public speaking to youth ages 5-18.

Because of COVID, the organization, which serves nearly 400 youth annually across Davie and surrounding counties, has seen a dramatic decline in funding due to limited donations and canceled fundraisers. The biggest fundraiser, the Davie 4-H Golf Tournament, which generally brings in $4,000, had to be canceled last year. Due to guidance from NC State University, which oversees Davie 4-H, and outdoor gathering limits, this year’s tournament was also canceled.

The decision dealt a tough blow to funding for the organization’s summer programming.

“This was a very hard decision for us,” says Danny Lough, Davie County 4-H Extension agent. “We want to ensure everyone stays safe during this time and an in-person spring fundraiser does not allow us to do that. The funds earned from the golf tournament go directly to serving youth in our community through our clubs, camps, school enrichment, and STEM programs.

“Thanks to these funds, we can offer all these programs at little to no cost for our Davie families, which allows every youth an opportunity for a fun and educational experience.”

One of Davie 4-H’s largest youth opportunities is the Summer Fun Camps that serve nearly 100 children annually and provide a safe, hands-on educational opportunity for families that need summer child care.

Davie Farm Bureau and United Way of Davie donate funds annually to help cover some of the costs of camps. However, without additional funding, Lough was concerned that the cost of this summer’s camps would have to increase to cover insurance and travel expenses; possibly pricing out many families traditionally served by Davie 4-H Summer Fun.

Then he had an idea – ask businesses to sponsor the programs like they sponsor the golf tournament.

The idea was a tremendous success.

In addition to a $3,000 grant from the Mebane Foundation, Davie County 4-H received donations from Barnette Heating & Air, Fuller Architecture, Fuller Welding & Fabricators, Meg Brown Home Furnishings, Mocksville Auto Pride Car Wash, TAOksm, and Trailers of the East Coast.

“We really appreciate the outpouring of support from the business community as well as a few individuals. Several donors have children who have gone through the Summer Fun Camps and wanted to give that opportunity to others. We actually raised more than the funds lost which has allowed us to keep the prices low and increase the number of camps offered plus add a zoo trip.”   

This summer’s 14 camps cover a range of topics from gardening to computer coding. Each camp will be limited to 10 participants to allow for social distancing during transportation. After-camp care will also be provided for the first time.

Most of the camps are led by volunteers who are knowledgeable in the field they are teaching. “Our Davie County Master Gardeners help lead our Junior Master Gardener Camp where youth learn more about gardening. A local chef teaches the cooking camps and teaches the kids cooking skills and healthy recipes. Our Davie 4-H Shooting Sports instructor, Nelson Cowden, will teach youth about firearm safety and wildlife identification,” Lough said.

“The Mebane Foundation is all about education and getting kids involved in our community and I think our summer fun programs really align to that core value. Every kid is going to have fun, every kid going to have a safe summer camp experience but at the same time walk away with new skills and knowledge gained from our camps.”

Camp registration is held in person and begins at 8 a.m on Tuesday, April 27. Interested families may stop by the Davie Cooperative Extension office, 180 S. Main St. #210, Mocksville, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m on weekdays. There will be an evening sign-up on May 6 from 5-7 p.m.

To learn more about this summer’s camps check out the camp brochure @ Davie County 4-H Facebook or pick up a copy at the Extension office. For more information, contact Lough at danny_lough@ncsu.edu or call (336) 753-6100.