New day-camp option offered throughout the month of July
Since 1951, New Jersey youths have gathered in Stokes State Forest in Sussex County, the northernmost county in the Garden State, for the classic overnight summer camp experience of the New Jersey 4-H Camp.
The yearly ritual of campers returning summer after summer, some eventually going through the counselor-in-training program, even becoming staff members, bring joy to Ben Clawson, a repeat camper who had his first camp experience in 1995 and currently serves as director at the New Jersey 4-H Camp since 2016.
Clawson and his colleagues have adapted the classic 4-H Camp experience as an innovative day camp and premiering it in a central New Jersey location as the brand-new “4-H Camp at Rutgers Gardens,” starting this summer. Registration for the general public opens on February 15.
“The new day camp experience at Rutgers Gardens will emphasize the same social and emotional learning that has set the standard for 4-H Camp’s inclusive community-based program while diving in deeper to hands-on learning and outdoor education,” said Shanna Gryder, who will serve as director of the 4-H Camp at Rutgers Garden. Currently a program associate, Gryder has long been associated with 4-H Camp, first as a camper in her youth and as part of the summer staff for the past five years.
The new day camp, also open to youth, ages 6-12, is a novel partnership of 4-H and Rutgers Gardens, which has a long-standing tradition of welcoming learners and explorers of all ages to its 180 acres of both maintained and natural areas.
“This partnership with 4-H offers the perfect opportunity for us to share our plant collections and natural areas with New Jersey youth in a way that encourages curiosity, discovery and community building,” said Lauren Errikson, director of Rutgers Gardens.
“Through the camp experience, we could very well be cultivating the next generation of horticulturists and ecologists right here in the Gardens,” added Errickson.
The camp comprises four week-long sessions, starting July 5 and ending July 28. Classes and activities will be the same each session as the program is designed for campers to enroll in a single session. However, for 2023, campers can enroll in an Inaugural Mini-Session and a full session as well.
While a brand new program, 4-H Camp at Rutgers Gardens will combine the social/emotional learning of the classic 4-H Camp’s friendly, communal and tech-free experience.
“It’s strange to think that kids too need to be rejuvenated – but at its best, that’s exactly what the summer camp experience does,” said Clawson. “A tech-free, intensely social, outdoor experience provides the opportunity for kids to revel together in the simple delights of a care-free summer day.”
Campers will bond with their “cabins” throughout the week, as they engage in a wide range of educational opportunities presented by the Rutgers Gardens as well as enjoy a mixture of carefree games in the university’s award-winning botanical site.
Visit the New Jersey 4-H Camp at Stokes State Forest for more information or call the office at 973-948-3550.