West Virginia 4-H, long seen as a leader in the youth camping industry, invites camping volunteers and professionals to register for the National Camping Institute, scheduled for March 11-15 at WVU Jackson’s Mill near Weston, W.Va.

The conference features national camping experts and workshops from industry leaders. Registration and more information is available at the conference website: http://www.nci.ext.wvu.edu/.

The biennial conference brings together professional and volunteer camp organizers to share ideas, learn from workshops and plan for improvements in camping programs.

Anyone who works with youth in camping and other informal educational settings – including after school programs, church camps, residential youth camps, 4-H camps, YMCA and independent camps – is encouraged to attend.

“The best thing about the conference is that each participant brings their own unique ideas and everyone ‘talks camp,’” Jane Jopling, WVU Hardy County Extension agent and conference co-chair, said.

Workshops are offered Monday and Wednesday. Off-site tours across the state will take place Tuesday. Destinations include popular West Virginia sites, such as the New River Gorge and historic Charleston, W.Va.

Author, child therapist, and camping advocate Bob Ditter will be the keynote speaker during Monday’s opening session. Ditter will discuss the impact of building a camp community in the technology age.

Workshop topics include using online registration processes, incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programming into camp and connecting campers to nature. Participants can select the workshops that best suit their needs.

The program received educational endorsement by the American Camp Associations’ Educational Endorsement Review Committee, meaning that continuing education credits are available for participants.

Monday night activities include exhibits from various camping-related businesses and a craft corner. Companies will provide information on food services, emergency services, insurance, craft supplies and computer software relevant to camp needs.

A representative of the American Camp Association will be available to discuss changes in the ACA Accreditation program.

This is the first time in the conference’s history that it will be hosted in West Virginia. WVU Extension’s 4-H Youth Development program developed the nation’s first state 4-H camping program, and WVU Jackson’s Mill is the country’s first state 4-H camp facility.



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CONTACT: Cassie Waugh, WVU Extension Service
304-293-8735; 304-376-1829