Here's What I Think
4-H memories still linger
“Mmhmm I want to linger
Mmhmm a little longer...”
The words to that old 4-H song do still linger from a time when those four clover leaves, the pledge, the projects and, oh, my, the camp were a big part of my life.
I was excited to join 4-H when I was eight-years-old. For some reason, I was elected secretary my first year (that was torture, but it turned out okay). I took sewing projects (also torture, those didn’t always turn out okay) and room improvement, yeast breads and what’s a farm kid to do? Pigs. The others turned out better. More on that later.
Loved the songs. Tried to live up to the pledge. But camp was the very best.
It seemed like there were several hundred campers then. I was in the Delaware Tribe, persuaded there from the family-traditional Mingos by fellow Minnehaha Brave Ellen Cauley. Got to say, she had it right.
So much to do at camp every day, and what fun it was. We made our beds every day and lined up for meals as straight as we could so that we could eat first. Intra-tribal sports and classes. Duties around the camp. Vespers. Council Circle where the Ishkatay lit the campfire and we challenged each other with stunts and songs and cheers. I learned much there from making hardtack, which I have never had to do again, to making plaster of Paris casts of animal tracks and leaves and on to yarn mop dolls and decoupage.
The Delawares and Mingos of the day traded “winning” the week year after year. But in all reality, just about every kid who spent the week in Thornwood won. It was that much fun.
We forged bonds with kids from other areas of the county, which became essential for us when we were finally ready to enter Pocahontas County High School. In fact, if I had to point to one reason my classmates were so “together” from beginning to end of our high school careers, it would be 4-H camp because there, we worked together with kids from every school in competition with kids from our own. We learned about each other, made friends—and lifetime friends, at that.
Oh, about those projects.
I earned pins for room improvement, yeast breads and pigs, and in fact, had the Grand Champion Bacon in 1973. The proceeds of that bacon sale paid for my room improvement project, right down to the painter and the material for the curtains and bedspread my mom made for me. I don’t think she charged for labor, but she should have. She turned the blue gingham material I purchased at the H-P Store into quite the grand room decor. (I know. I’d already had sewing in 4-H. Let’s just say there are some things I was too stubborn to learn.)
4-H taught us so much about life. Keep your head clear, your heart loyal, your hands in larger service and yourself healthy for better living. Good advice.
And go to camp.