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4-H Camping

For more than 80 years, Virginia 4-H camping has been a proven and effective method of teaching youth life skills. Each year more than 27,000 youth participate in 4-H camping programs at Virginia's six 4-H educational centers.

Both residential and day 4-H camping programs have a rich history of providing educational programming to thousands of youth annually through hands-on, experiential learning. The skills that are given major emphasis in Virginia's 4-H camping program include:  

  • Understanding self
  • Communicating and relating to others
  • Acquiring, analyzing, and using information
  • Problem-solving and decision-making
  • Managing resources
  • Working with others
    Girls in Canoe

4-H camping teaches youth to make their own decisions, solve problems, and manage their resources without the help of family. Through involvement in the 4-H camping program, youth gain a better appreciation of family members by learning how to become more responsible. Campers and parents of campers also learn to better appreciate each other.


National Accreditation

Virginia's 4-H camping program is recognized throughout the nation as a leader in 4-H camping programs. Each of the six 4-H educational centers has achieved American Camp Association (ACA) accreditation.

Parents and guardians should always look for the ACA seal when selecting a camp for their child to attend. Only about 25 percent of camps in the nation are accredited by the American Camp Association, the highest accreditation in the United States. Having ACA accreditation means that the camp meets the high standards for safety, food service and staffing, health care, and program quality. Each 4-H center must be involved in an intensive review every three years for reaccreditation.

Each 4-H center program staff person, as well as the adult and teen 4-H volunteers who participate in camp, are carefully selected and trained prior to the camping event.

Types of 4-H Camps

In Virginia, there are four basic types of 4-H camps:

1. Residential 4-H Camps -- programming events in which campers stay overnight, generally from 2 days to 5 days. Most of our 4-H camps last for five days, with campers staying overnight for four nights.

2. Special Interest 4-H Camps -- programming events focusing mainly on a specific project or theme area. There are a large variety of special interest 4-H camps available. Different age-group requirements are offered for these camps.

3. Day 4-H Camps -- programming events in which campers participate in learning activities throughout the day, but do not stay overnight.

4. Cloverbud 4-H Camps -- programming events for youth 5 to 8 years of age. Youth must meet the minimum age of 5 between October 1 and September 30 of the following year, and must not be older than the maximum age.

Most 4-H camping programs in Virginia are conducted at the six 4-H educational centers located throughout the state. Each 4-H camp is an independent educational event.

Who Can Attend?

4-H camp is open to any boy or girl in Virginia. Youth do not have to be 4-H members to attend 4-H camps; however, they will be given the opportunity to join. For residential Junior 4-H camps at the 4-H educational center in your geographic area, youth must reach their 9th birthday between October 1 and September 30 of the following year and they must not have reached their 14th birthday.

Opportunities are also available for teens, 14 to 18 years of age, to be trained and gain experience as 4-H camp counselors. Additionally, there are other opportunities for special interest 4-H camps that may include different age groups.

Adults have opportunities to volunteer their services as camp staff for a week of 4-H camp through their local Virginia Cooperative Extension office. Each volunteer is carefully screened and provided with training before being able to serve as a volunteer at 4-H camp.

Who to Contact

Contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office for specific details on registration, costs, and deadlines for camps in your area.