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Novel nature experiences, caring and enriching environment make event memorable

"That was so cool!", "Crawfish!!!!!", "I am going to work on an entomology project this year for sure", "Did you know that some tadpoles overwinter in the mud?", "What is that?! I think it is a new species - I'm going to look it up right now!", "Now that I've learned to tie a fly, I am definitely going to learn to fish"…these are just a few statements that came from youth involved in the 4-H Magical Outdoor Adventure Weekend. The event was held Sept 22-24 at 4-H Camp Bristol Hills (Ontario County). While there, participants connected with each other, explored the camp environment, attended workshops, and participated in recreational activities.

53 youth, chaperones, and staff from 12 counties participated in this family centered camp. During the day participants spent time in interactive workshops that included: pond and stream safari, entomology, campfire, shelter building, soil painting, fly-tying, plants, mammals, nature photography, archery, birds, and safe trail tricks. They enjoyed healthy meals together and spent full group time with a theme focused magician and an owl presentation by volunteers (and owls) from Wild Wings Inc., https://www.wildwingsinc.com/ , a not-for-profit educational organization. Participants also recreated - playing 4-square, card games, making t-shirts, and S'mores around the campfire.

Research about 4-H Youth Development and family learning indicates that novel experiences, opportunities for families to explore together, and prompted discussions can be fruitful in building learning connections for youth. Experiences like the 4-H Magical Outdoor Adventure Weekend are intentionally designed to incorporate learning in a novel and socially rich environment to help youth not only be inspired in the moment, but to consider what they want to do next, bridge what they are learning with school environments, and think about how the experience might help them aspire to lead and serve in their own community. After returning home one parent wrote to share, "my son and his father returned excited about all that they learned". They added , "the staff were all about making the children have a fabulous time and they were very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise. My son already told his grandparents all about his encounters and what he learned…and the yummy meals and the snacks".

4-H Magical Outdoor Adventure Weekend is one of many 4-H youth and family experiences hosted over the last decade by the Youth Nature and Outdoor Environment (YNOE) Program Work team. The YNOE PWT is made up of 49 members from 26 counties, Cornell Departments and external stakeholders. The YNOE PWT also offers professional development events for staff, activities at 4-H conferences, and meetings for members. More information about YNOE PWT can be found here https://www.nys4-h.org/ynoe-pwt. Staff and stakeholders wishing to participate in YNOE or any PWT can go to: https://cals.cornell.edu/cornell-cooperative-extension/join-us/cce-program-work-teams (see Join a Team).


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