Kentucky 4-H attracts largest summer camp attendance in state history, after 2-year hiatus

By Christopher Carney
University of Kentucky

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kentucky 4-H Youth Development’s Summer Camp program welcomed a record-breaking 13,600 participants.

Kentucky 4-H Camping, which is housed in the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and organized by local county extension offices, has four locations, each contributing to the record-breaking milestone:

• Feltner 4-H Camp (London)  
• Lake Cumberland 4-H Camp (Nancy) 
• North Central 4-H Camp (Carlisle)  
• West Kentucky 4-H Camp (Dawson Springs)

“Three years ago, we made the tough decision to cancel our summer camp program because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Joey Barnard, 4-H Youth Development extension principal camping specialist.

“Setting a new camp attendance record this soon after having to close our camp gates tells us that youth need a 4-H camp experience, parents/guardians trust the program and our implementation of improved positive youth development experiences has been effective.”

Lake Cumberland 4-H Camping Center celebrated 2,858 summer camp participants. (University of Kentucky photo)

The four H’s stand for head, heart, hands and health. Rachel Guidugli, assistant extension director for4-H Youth Development, said the four H’s stand for values that help youth find their spark through “hands-on learning” and “learning by doing” educational programming.

“We believe in the power of youth and meeting them where they are,” Guidugli said. “All our programs are designed and centered on youth engagement and motivated by their interests. We surround them with opportunities to learn leadership skills, engage civically and develop communication skills in a safe environment where they belong and are supported by a caring adult.”

Kentucky 4-H currently offers seven core program areas: Agriculture, Communications and Expressive Arts, Family & Consumer Sciences, Health & Well-Being, Leadership, Natural Resources, and Science, Engineering and Technology.

Going forward, the focus remains on programs that prepare more young people with the essential, lifetime skills to succeed as future leaders.

“High-quality positive youth development programs are vital to producing a workforce that is ready to lead and 4-H has an integral role in shaping our current and future leaders,” Guidugli said. “We are eager to continue our work across the spectrum of our core program areas, increasing partnerships across the campus community, encouraging volunteer involvement, engaging with our alumni and donors and illuminating the positive experiences young people gain through involvement in 4-H.”

4-H Programs exist in all 120 counties through the UK and Kentucky State University Cooperative Extension Service. Contact your local County Extension Office for more information.
To learn more about Kentucky 4-H Youth Development, visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *