Thanks to the generous support of local citizens, businesses and Career Source Gulf Coast, this summer camp season saw more Franklin County youth attending 4-H camp than any year in recent memory.

Overall, 34 youngsters, ages 8 to 13, made the trip over to Choctawhatchee Bay for a healthy dose of summertime fun and learning. They included Ashton Eskew, Daylen Gilbert, Cameron Golden, Devin Lemieux, Autumn Loesch, Hailey Loesch, Chance Martina, Emily McAnally, Olivia Poloronis, Bella Price, Evie Price, Annabelle Rickards, Issabella Rickards, Ryan Sandoval, Sophia Strickland, Promise Suddeth, Dex Teat, Reed Thompson, Kate Ward, Carl Wilhite, Kingston Williams, Lilly Willis, Luke Willis, Maddix Paul, Luci Paul, Nyashia Davis, Baileigh Dasher, Sean Gray, Jostyn Tipton, Breahna Fleming, Tyler Morrison, Reese Cargill, Nolan Alford and Hailey Miller.

Additionally, the local Franklin County 4-H program provided 10 youth cabin counselors, ages 13 to 18, as mentors to the younger kids. They included Alex Itzkovitz, Adrian Pruett, Allison Register, Camille Williams, John Michael Thompson, Jacob Shirley, Krista Kelley, Elizabeth McNally, Jaelyn Tipton and Rosie Davis.

Along the edge of Choctawhatchee Bay, very near the high rises and bustle of Destin and Ft. Walton Beach, there exists a different world on the grounds of the University of Florida’s 4-H Camp Timpoochee. Nestled among a coastal live oak grove, the cabins, and other structures blend into the natural settings. It is a place where kids have come to capture a sense of amazement and fun since its establishment in 1926 as Florida’s first residential 4-H camp and one of the earliest in the nation.

Learning activities this year included arts and crafts, outdoor skills with archery and air rifles, swimming and kayaking, and many other outdoor/indoor games and guided sessions. All activities were conducted under the supervision of trained camp staff, who report to the camp staff director, and UF/IFAS faculty who participate during the week. An atmosphere of safety, fun and acceptance is encouraged throughout, following the principles of positive youth development.

“All in all, it was a great week of fun and learning, topped off with a tropical storm building in the Gulf off to the westward,” said County Extension Agent Erik Lovestrand. “Many thanks to the dedicated camp staff, agents, and 4-H organizational efforts that go into making this opportunity available for our local children and young adults. It is a life experience for these youth that will pay valuable dividends in our future leaders.”