How can camp organizers keep their programs current to reach todays diverse groups? Do youths prefer computer games to campfires?

These questions and more will be answered during a three-day training conference that will help camping professionals learn the latest trends for targeting young people. The conference will take place March 10-12 at West Virginia University Jacksons Mill State 4-H Camp near Weston.

Mountaineer Camping Institute, hosted by WVU Extension Service, brings together experts and camp organizers to share information about creative and effective ways to recruit campers and train staff members. MCI offers workshop presentations in areas such as day camping, operations and staff training.

Jim Cain, Association for Challenge Course Technology executive director, will be the keynote speaker. He is the owner and operator of Teamwork&Teamplay, a worldwide teambuilding program for corporations, colleges and camps.

In addition, Cain will present several workshops, sharing his experiences in innovative staff training methods, teambuilding and recreation.

Camp organizers know that it takes more than singalongs and smores to attract todays youths,said Bill Beckley, WVU Extension camping specialist.WVU Extension faculty members, combined with outside experts, offer a unique training experience that infuses heritage, tradition and trends.

Historically, West Virginia has been a leader in the camping world. In 1921, the WVU Jacksons Mill hosted the first statewide 4-H camp in the country.

Weve been innovators in camping for nearly 100 years,Beckley said.Our faculty and staff realize the importance of reaching kids in a positive manner through camp programs.

Whether someone is hosting a day camp for preschoolers or a weeklong camp for young adults, MCI offers an unparalleled opportunity for training and networking, he added.

The camping community recognizes the need for information sharing and innovation,he said.MCI brings these opportunities to them in a forum thats educational, active and engaging.

Anyone interested in camping may register for MCI . The three-day registration fee is $180, if received by Feb. 25. Those wishing to attend a single day are eligible to do so at a reduced price. Lodging is available for an additional cost.

For more information, contact Beckley at 304-293-2694 ext. 3438.

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