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These are a few of the comments that have been said about Alameda County 4-H camp by adults who have attended our camp for a week.

                 I would like to thank all of you that helped getting me registered to be a 4-H Leader and camp chaperone. Once again I would also like to thank all of you that spend so much of your time making 4-H happen.  I know that 4-H consumes allot of your personal time in your lives. I thank you all that dedicate your time to such an amazingly wonderful club for the development of our youth.
                My week at Los Posadas 4-H camp was nothing short of magical. Doing the rough math I estimate it has been about 33 years since I was last at 4-H camp. Way back then as a camper all I really remember was how much fun I had and the friends I made. Now as a chaperone I was able to see much more. What I saw was amazing. I came back from camp with a new appreciation for our youth. I came back with a feeling of hope for the future of not only our youth but of hope for the whole country.
                Lately there has been so much negative press about our youth. There lack of education, there laziness, there lack of incentive to lead, the increased amount of childhood violence, there drug abuse, alcoholism, unwillingness to exercise, mental and physiological issues, and there insensitivity to others. All of these things and much more are constantly permeated into our brains and the brains of our kids through the media on a daily basis.
                I must admit that on day one of camp I did see some symptoms of the above issues but the magic of 4-H camp seemed to change all of that by the end of the week.
                On the bus ride to camp I had one particular camper that was loud and obnoxious. He did not seem to want to adhere to the bus driver’s rules of the road. He seemed to want to play the tough guy role. On the last night of camp he was crying and very emotional and stated how much he loved camp and would miss all his new friends. I sensed that he really took to the structured life of camp and all the love and companionship. On the kick ball field he took a leadership role and was helping the younger campers out. This same camper helped me keep the kids under control on the bus ride home.
                There were also two campers that seemed to be very introverted. They seemed to have few friends in the beginning and did not communicate much with others. Even though this behavior was different from most the other campers I never saw any of the kids harass them in anyway. I did see the kids help them get comfortable with their new surroundings. I did see the youth tribe leaders give help them and get them involved with the many activities at camp. Amazingly by the time it was talent night both of these kids volunteered to get up in front of the whole camp and perform. It was a beautiful site. Something movies are made about.
                I had one very young girl that sat close to me on the bus. She was very quiet and alone. She told me this was her first year at camp. The youth leadership at camp saw this at camp and made sure she was taken care of and felt welcome. They were sure to help these campers and would often pair them up with more experienced campers whom were more than happy to show them around there new temporary home at camp. By the end of the week this young camper had a ton of friends and was one of the loudest campers on the bus ride home.
                I was truly amazed how many of these campers got up out of bed on their own (voluntarily) at 05:30 a.m. to go on a tough hike through the forest. We are talking about  10 year old kids getting up before the crack of dawn on their own (no parents to push them). To exercise?
                When was the last time you went to a movie and the "whole" audience was singing along to the movie. When was the last time you went to a movie with an audience of kids that were laughing, cheering, and crying together? How often do you see kids singing fun, happy, cheerful songs together? I was amazed by the spirit of the kids. At the kickball games they were cheering and singing, helping each other learn the game, giving their younger opponents breaks to encourage them to play. What a truly amazing magical week.

                I was told that the camp was originally donated to be used only for educational purposes. I think all of these kids learned more in one week than they do in one year of school. The leadership skills that they learn were incredible. These young leaders were responsible for a very busy schedule. The young leaders had the responsibility of taking care of a large group of even younger kids. From sunup to sundown they were responsible in getting these kids up and out of bed and back into bed, personal hygiene, getting them to reveille, getting them to all their meals , making sure they were safe, seeing they performed John duty, seeing they did there K.P. duty, producing and preparing them to do a play production at camp fire in a very short period of time, prepping them and getting them to go to many scheduled events, as well as so many other tasks. I have been in many leadership positions in my working career and the skills that these kids learn at camp are exactly what is need to lead in the real world.
                 The younger campers learn so many social skills as well as being educated about nature. They start to learn what life is like when they must move on and move out of the comfort of their homes. They learn that team work is essential to survival in a society. They learn that much of what we do in life is structured and scheduled. They learn that it is up to you to get up and do this on your own without your parents telling you or forcing you to do it. They must get up at a certain time, they must clean themselves, they must get themselves food, and they must clean up after themselves. They learn about birds, the plants, the trees, the forest, and the history of the land. They learn that sometimes struggling a little can be rewarding.  The amazing thing is that they learn all of this and much more while having fun at the same time.
                What a beautiful place to learn. I cannot think of a better way to teach so many kids so much for such a small amount of money.
                Thank You all so much for letting me be part of this,
                                Abbie 4-H
                                Alameda County


Hello Everyone,

We just returned from our 3rd yr. at Los Posadas 4H camp. Thought I'd write up a review of the week for you all. I am the only adult there with children, from Redwood 4H . I think that this session was the best of the 3 we've attended.
                      The campers get off the bus, a little Big eyed and excited. They hike up to the lodge where all the tribes banners are hanging on the railings. The kids this year did fabulous banners- very detailed  with the theme and all the names of the tribe members on them.Introduced to the rules and names called for the tribes (group with the counselors)- a mix of boy and girls, dif. ages and dif. clubs. Patrick was in Hey Diddle Diddles, Olivia was in Jack and Jills.If your kid was in the Humpty Dumptys- they were called "scrambled eggs!" The theme this year was Nursery  Rhymes. The chaperones were Mother Goose. Go figure!
                      Monday nite was Carnival Nite- hoola hoops , arm wrestling, throw wet sponge at counselor, etc.Ice cream demo made by using liquid nitrogen- very exciting- kids got to eat! Lunch that day was grilled cheese and sandwich bar. Dinner was a very popular spaghetti  (meat or no meat sauce), garlic bread. The line for 2nds was extremely long. Seconds are always offered if there is enough. The first day the camper has to sit with their tribe at meals, after that, its anywhere, anyone. Chaperones this year mixed with the kids a little more at meals. I think this is a good thing. Later it was movie night at Woody's Circle ( a cluster of wooden benches under the trees) . This was a new one for us- a large homemade screen was set up. Very cool and popcorn too.The movie was The Sandlot- boys baseball in the 1960's- funny!
                      Tues. was visitor's day-Campers showed them around camp, they ate with us and got a feel for running around the flagpole. Lunch took awhile to serve with all the extra folks. Crazy track meet was later on- TP mummy wrap( Patrick has been wrapped 2 yrs.in a row- I think because he so tiny,) wet sponge races, balloon stomp (Patrick, Olivia, Natalie were in the final 4), a put on the clothes race (which was very funny to watch), balloon toss. Dinner was delicious baked ham, baked beans, homemade potato salad, cornbread. Star gazing was cancelled due to clouds. But the optional scarey nite hike went on. I think they lost 2 kids (not really, just part of the set up) and a couple kids cried. Dance and proposal nite- This is something I don't understand- Someone puts some names together  and in a box. The names are drawn and the 2 kids have to sit in front of everyone, and one person has to propose marriage to the other kid- they may have never met! I think it is embarrassing for a lot of the kids and can't figure out how it ties into camp. Yes it may be a tradition someone started years ago, but its time has come. This year, Patrick got called up (first time)- he had no idea who  the girl was or who put his name in. I think it makes fun of marriage and I don't get the point of it.
                       Wedns.lunch was hot dogs, fries and my choc. chip cookies. Later on it was water carnival- diving for coins, relay swim races, biggest and smallest splashes. The funniest race is where the counselors swim to get the watermelon. Well the watermelon is greased up with crisco!.Then it is formal dinner nite- counselors dress up- dresses on the girls, some suits on the guys. They eat early and chaperones watch the kids. Never have I seen so much eye liner and mascarra going on in the girl's bathroom. I had to help one counselor with her non cooperating zipper for 20 min., then it was itchy creme on her bug bites and a hair problem. My God, you'd think they were getting ready for the prom! The counselors serve family style to the campers and chaperones- BBQ chicken, chinese salad, potstickers, Dion's Fried Rice. Patrick loved this rice so much he told me I had to get the recipe and he was very surprised when I told him that one of the Directors-Mr. Dion- made it. Well he went right to the source and asked him for it and Dion was kind enough to take the time to explain to him how to do it. It was also Talent Show nite- kids can sing, dance, etc.  Even if the kid is really bad, everyone is so supportive and howls and cheers them on. Its really nice to see. This year Patrick did a card trick.
                      Thurs.lunch was in the forest for Forest Retreat. We pack lunch bags  and hike as a tribe to a redwood grove near the creek. We sit quietly, clap with our fingers in the air ( no sound) listen to David's review of the week and what camp means to him, to think about our time at camp, read poems and sing songs, eat lunch. Then each camper goes back on the trail by themselves to reflect about the beauty and surroundings.  Later on it was a scavenger hunt. Then it was a counselor hunt- where the counselors hide in groups on the property. Dinner was a delicious burrito bar. Sheila the cook made homemade beans to fill the tortillas. After campfire, was the closing ceremony at the pool. Its all very mysterious and solemn. Its really very emotional. Each tribe builds a boat out of  a found log and craft material. Tea candles are put on each boat in the pool. Each person gets glow stick necklaces. The lights are turned off, everyone says "oohh".  The head counselors read a poem they've written about their tribe's week. Olivia's tribe poem said she was " the little girl with big dreams". Then the retiring counselors speak about their camp life and what 4H camp has meant to them. Some get very emotional. I even tear up. One teen director talked about how he skipped camp last year to work and really regrets it now. One c. talked about how he is thinking that he only has 2 more weeks left at camp - 2 more summers.A few campers. including  our club's Sarah R. spoke about what camp means to them. Then there is the hug chain down and up the hill. Very cool looking with all the glow necklaces. At the dance that nite, the retiring counslors do a dance in a circle, surrounded by the rest of the camp to Queen's Bohemian Rapsody.
                     Friday is last campfire, packing, camp cleanup and camper awards- those paper plates- counselors try to pick out funny sayings or attributes about their campers. Lunch is a nice smorgaberg buffet.Then its like year book signing- kids get their manila award  envelopes signed by kids and counselors. Goodbyes and bus load up.
                     Each day after lunch was quiet time- the kids are supposed to stay on their bunks, rest, read, write letters or play quiet games
                     The food was really excellent. At lunch and dinner, there is always a salad bar ( kidney beans, olives, porccini peppers, 3 bean, celery, carrots, cukes, chik peas, tomatoes, etc..). If we run out of Ranch dressing its  an uproar. We probably go through at least a gallon a day of ranch dressing. I think its okay - they're getting veggies in their bodies.Chaperone Jim did  great on the lettuce distribution , suggesting nicely that the kids try some salad. There was always hot chocolate in the mornings too.Snacks were a little sporatic this year- I'm thinking of volunteering for that one next year.There are always 3 big jugs with lemonade, punch and water for the kids to fill the "water" bottles they each recieved  The water is delicious at camp and comes from a natural spring I believe.Breakfasts always had a hot item ( pancakes, french toast, eggs, bacon), always hot oatmeal, some yogurt,fruit, muffins, cottage cheese, bagels and cold cereal selection. Milk served at every meal.
                    Picture day was on Monday with everyone in their new camp T-shirts. Every tribe got to do every workshop. Workshops were phenomenal. Fun in the Forest- all about team building- walk the tightrope, go through the spider web, giant  see saw. etc. Creek walk/history of camp , craft shack- we had god's eyes, dream catchers, mosaics, boat building, tye dying, and off course lanyard making- I had shopped and put together a lot of this stuff. I even found cow, chicken and pig light up key chains for the lanyards. Well hellooo I thought, we are 4H. Ice cream making and then onto samores ( a little sugar overload you think??!!) and you can see why it is a favorite workshop .We had a new chaperone (Dan) who was a returning 4H counselor ( you retire at 19 and can return as a chaperone when you are 25) who did a great workshop on silk screen printing. Each tribe got to design their own tribe logo and silk screen it onto t shirts. Really amazing designs came out of the tribes. Fabulous Science workshop on air blowing and molecules- Patrick knows all about it still, something called 'vermides principal' but don't quote me on that one. Have your child demo for you with their big plastic wind bag- it is amazing to watch. Archery was popular as always and we are fortunate to have Donna return every year to do it as she is a certified archery  leader.
                  I tried to take  pictures of your camper as much as possible. It might take me awhile to get it to you. Some pix actually document that your child did wash dishes or clean bathrooms at camp- so there should be no excuses at home of " I don't know how!" Each tribe did a day of KP (kitchen patrol- set, clear tables, rinse, wash dishes) and John duty ( cleaning the bathrooms, uncloging toilets, cleaning showers.)
                  Free time in the afternoon meant that they could do what they wanted with out the tribe- go to the pool (lifegaurd there of course), craft shack ( very popular to get those tribe boats made or lanyards going) on hikes ( have to have min. of 3 p/group and sign out and sign in)  play ping pong or basketball, etc. This is the time I was usually at the craft shack or doing prep work in the kitchen for dinner.
                  At meal times, a lot of funny skits and dances are performed by the teen directors, traditional songs that take you around the flag pole, banging on tables.If you recieve a mail package, you might have to dance for it. Mail is distributed at meals. The decible level does go up very high! Lost items go into the silly box- child must perform something to get it back.Dances are usually every night- seems like we were pressed for time this year to get them in. If you don't like to dance, you can play cards by flashlight under the table bleachers ( which is what Patrick, Sidharth and Gabe did. I said it looked like an illeagal poker game going on, but it was only UNO! )
                 Campfires were after KP duty. Each tribe did a night with another tribe- skits and songs were rated for points. Seems like the same old skits every year- getting boring and I've only been there 3 yrs. Also, they could use some props and costumes. Didn't see much of that. I'd be willing to bring some up, butits really the kids who design the programs.
                 For all the activities, events, campfires, etc. the tribes were given points and tallied at the end of the week. The kids seemed to like that and the competition and spirit.
                  As for me, I worked in the craft shack with Karen #1- I am Karen #2,  and the kitchen- a lot in the kitchen, but I enjoy it. I had to visit the nurse officially 3x. Some people were thinking that I was getting injured subconsciously to check on her medical skills. The nurse was my niece Holly. For the first visit, I was making my choc. chip cookies , grabbed the tray with the oven mitt- well there was a hole in the mitt between the forefinger and thumb. I screamed something probably non-printable here, saved the cookies ( I didn't drop the tray) and went to the nurse.  Burn band aid, and tylenol for 3 blisters. That was on Tues.
                  On Wedns.morn, I was on my "bed" combing my hair - No perfumes, no lotions, deodorant, etc. yet and a yellow jacket flew in my mouth. 2nd trip to the nurse- Holly saw me coming and said "Oh no its not you Aunt Karen!" No stinger to remove ( they don't leave any, but can sting repeatedly and also bite too). Tylenol and benadryl  and swollen upper lip. So I'm sitting doing dream weavers at the craft shack and keep getting dozey and thinking " wow I'm really tired from camp." At lunch I ask Nurse Holly for the side effects of benadryl- sleepiness. Oh like duh Karen!
                  Thurs, taking stuff out of that infamous hot oven and I burn my elbow- Trip #3 to see Nurse Holly- burn medicine and tylenol. Believe me in the 3 summers I've attended, I've never gone to see the nurse before! Oh and Carol did buy some new oven mitts!
                   This was Olivia's first time at camp. I had concerns that she  might not be able to get up so early and stay up so late each day, but she did it.And she got up 2x for the early morning 6:15ish hike! I didn't have to interfere at all with getting her up . She bunked  and palled with her rabbit buddies (Rachael, Jessica, Kayla, Natalie and Sarah) who are all over 12 yrs.  The girls were great with her and treat her like a little sister. Towards the end of camp, Olivia was with some girls her own age which is a good thing. I didn't want the rabbit girls to feel like they had to watch her, after all this is their vacation also, but they were amazing and so patient and kind. You parents should be very proud of them and I am thankful for them!  Olivia and I were doing crafts at free time Thurs. and I noticed she was getting a little short and testy with me, so I moved on and knew  the lack of sleep was catching up with her.
                   The weather this year was so nice.It never got blazing hot, like our first year. This kept down the yellow jacket population, but I also think it kept the numbers down at the pool. Just so you know, the pool is NOT heated. Patrick wears his wet suit every year. Last year, there might be 3 bees enjoying a a piece of bacon on my tray- the trays are heavy metal compartmentalized things, like your old cafeteria trays, that look like they have been there forever (probably..) and made at some prison somewhere with license plates too. I sacraficed that bacon and got real good at squishing the bees with my fork- ewwww, gross Karen!
                   If you heard anything about candy... You are not supposed to bring it to camp, but its not in short supply. The counselors give it out to the kids- probably to bribe them! But what the hey- its only for a week and its part of camp!.
                 As I said the food , projects, events were all amazing. The only problem I saw was that the very old water pipes gave us some problems. So if any of you know of a plumber who would like to volunteer at the camp work day in the spring, pls. contact them. Probably on their wish list is a whole new system. The camp has been there since 1928- WOW! I think we lost  2 partial water days of the week. So we couldn't take showers that morning- I 'm sure my kids did not mind! Heard that some folks were already in the shower with soap when the water died!
                There were 2 fire drills that week. One in the schedule and one not ( but probably on the director's radar.) Good practice.
               What I don't know if I can convey to you is the sense of family this camp feels like to the kids. When your son or daughter asks if they can return next year and they want to be a camper there and then a counselor ( that is what Patrick said the first yr. )  they are hooked. The feelings about this place are unbelievable. I think that I am just really starting to understand it in yr.#3. I can't tell you how many of the adult chaperones were campers there themselves. One leader has been there 35 yrs. - all his children attended and now grandchildren are attending. Everyone looks out for your child, they are caring, compassionate people. The children grow together and create very strong friendships. The counselors are well trained, caring, attentive, high energy, excited.The counselors attend Camp Academy in Livermore. They go for the whole year and learn about children, dynamics, problem solving and putting together a program.
The adults love this camp so much that many of them take vacation time  to work here. Some of them have children that have outgrown the camp, but still return to chaperone and do their workshops. The adult directors ( Jim and Dion) are insightful, helpful, have trained the counselors well, supportive, enthusiastic and care about the kids experience at camp.Oh and have great plumbing skills too!  The cooks (3 of them) had great food and were helpful and diligent about food allergies, dislikes and lifestyles. Besides these paid positions- life gaurd, cooks and nurse, every one of the 28 adults ( an excellent ratio ) there are volunteer. Jim and Dion and Carol ( registrar, shopper extrordinaire, budgeting) work all year volunteering, to prepare for this one week of camp.Carol did 4 trips to camp during the week with her husband Bob.The hours they put in of their own time, away from their families is probably uncountable- I am thankful that this organization has their leadership- it really shows when you see the camp week. Also with leaders like David, Bill,and Pat, besides people skills, they all  posess  skills such as fixing an oven, unclogging toilets and fixing broken water lines, lifting heavy oven trays and bar b qing too. They are multi talented. Mind you I said multi talented not multi taskers- no one can do that like us Moms!
                  I know that if I did not attend, my children would be in good hands. This year, besides me being there for Olivia's first year- all her rabbit "sisters" were there, the cook- Sheila was both of my children's preschool teacher and the Nurse- Holly is their cousin. So there were many eyes watching them at camp. But even without these folks there, I know they would be fine. This 4H organization has been so great for my family- really such good hearted, generous, kind people doing great things for my children.
                  So as you can see it was a great week at camp for us. And I hope this gives you parents a little more insight of what goes on at camp, since it can be like pulling teeth to find out about it from the kids.  And if you are thinking of sending your child next year, perhaps this has answered your questions. But please do NOT fill your future camper in on everything I' ve written here. They need to have some surprises- just like Patrick would not tell Olivia everything about camp. Just remember to register on the first day, usually April 1. Camp was half full the first day of registration. You can always change your mind with out a penalty, but its hard to get in if you have to be put on the wait list. Call me if you have any questions too. The progress and differences I've seen in Patrick from the first year to now is interesting. This year he participated in the Talent show, did a proposal and was a 'cut up' during his skit nite. Who knows what will happen next year? Will I be there or will I be on a 30 yr. anniversary trip with Rich? We've never taken a trip without the kids.
                 If you are thinking of joining Redwood 4H, our meetings are on the 2nd Thurs. of the month at 7 Pm at Canyon Middle School. We start in Sept.
                 On the downside-  The laundry-wash everything- it comes home covered in brown dirt. And the children too need scrubbing and soaking. Yeah they told you they took a shower at camp, but when was that? 3 days ago??
                                             The sleep deprivation- it really shows up on Patrick. Rich and I made the decision that he can't do anymore sleepovers because he can't handle it and it takes its toll on our family life.  P. gets very nasty, negative and mean after a sleepover. Okay so camp has been like a 5  night sleepover and we are seeing his mean side now for 2 days. Even putting him to bed early and letting him sleep til 9. Hopefully he will be back to his wonderful self by day 3. Olivia seems to be doing well.
                  And if I've sent this to you  and you don't have kids for 4 H, its just to let you see what our busy life was like for the last week. 2 days before camp we were houseboating on Trinity Lake and before that we were at our house in Mt. Shasta. Heading up there again this Tues. to celebrate Patrick's 12th birthday. Then I guess we have to get back and work on tthe school registration and supply stuff- boring! Hope all is well and that this is informative about your camper and possible and future camper. Take care (4H camping Mom, prep cook and crafter!)