For many youngsters, the first extensive time away from the family hearth is a sleepaway camp during the summer, like the one offered by the Lindley G. Cook 4-H Youth Center for Outdoor Education. Each year, for the past 62 years, the center has offered a high quality, fun-filled overnight camp experience to countless youths, grades 4–11.
The camp, which is operated by Rutgers Cooperative Extension, is located on 108 acres in beautiful Stokes State Forest, Sussex County, N.J. This annual sleepaway summer camp welcomes everyone, not just 4-Hers, and at an affordable and competitive price for each of the six one-week sessions. Discounts are available for 4-H members and Rutgers University employees.Campers participate in weekly sessions that offer a variety of arts & crafts, environmental education, shooting sports, and waterfront activities on Lake Shawanni, and bunk with their peers in one of eleven rustic cabins provided on the site. Campers will also be able to experience a variety of traditional camp activities like evenings around the campfire, talent shows, learning new games and dances in a safe, non-competitive environment.
James Tavares, director of the camp since 2000, describes the camp experience as one that facilitates real growth for all the participants. “Our research-based, age-appropriate programs use the “learn-by-doing” approach of 4-H to enable youth to develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to become competent, caring and contributing citizens of the world.”
The summer camp is open to all youth who have completed grades three to ten. Counselor-In-Training positions are available to older kids, teens who have completed grades nine and ten.
The Lindley G. Cook 4-H Youth Center for Outdoor Education, which has been providing outdoor experiences for youth since 1951, is named after Lindley G. Cook, who was the associate director of the New Jersey Cooperative Extension Service from 1945–1958. Cook was the driving force behind the planning, fundraising, and development of New Jersey’s first State 4-H Camp. There is no official record of just how many campers and counselors have enjoyed the sleepaway experience from 1951 when the camp first opened, but “since 1982, over 32,000 campers and counselors passed through our gates,” said Tavares.