4-H around the world

District retreat in Craig draws hundreds of people to make friends, learn leadership skills

— "Huge activity. Kids love it."

Alisa Comstock, Moffat County 4-H Youth Development Agent, was referring to the annual 4-H District Retreat this year from March 28 to 30 at the Holiday Inn of Craig.

The purpose of the 4-H Retreat is to learn leadership skills during workshops, to make new friends and to have fun. Indeed, the weekend was jam packed with learning and fun activities.

Two hundred 4-H members came from Moffat, Grand, Jackson, Routt, Rio Blanco, Garfield and Eagle counties. Of those invited, only members from Summit County did not attend.

About 250 people total, including program presenters, chaperones and agents, attended. Members and adults stayed at the Holiday Inn and ate meals there.

It was the 15th year Moffat County hosted the district retreat.

The theme for this year's retreat was "4-H Around the World." Along the lines of the theme, each county that attended took a continent and made decorations related to that continent.

Everyone checked into the Holiday Inn on March 28, and in the evening, there were activities for members to get acquainted.

The next morning, the 4-H members began attending workshops of their choice. Each member chose three workshops of the eight offered.

Also available at certain times of the day were meat training assurance and record-book training. Comstock said all 4-H members who take meat animal projects are required to take meat training assurance once when they're first-year members and again when they're senior age.

After lunch, the members were divided into two groups of 100 members each. One group went bowling at Thunder Rolls Bowling Center while the other group attended workshops. Then the groups switched, so everyone got to bowl.

"Fabulous," is how Comstock described the guest speaker's presentation after dinner. Dr. Tim Holt, from Colorado State University, is a veterinarian and a magician.

After the guest speaker, members were treated to an ice cream social and dance. Since member ages ranged from 10 to 18, they also had the choice of making craft items from folded paper or duct tape. Duct tape items, such as wallets, bags, hula skirts and belts, were made from a variety of colors.

On Sunday morning, after breakfast, all 200 4-H members got together in a group. Each attendee was "brought up" and recognized with a certificate of participation.

"After that," Comstock said, "they all went home exhausted."

An example of the workshop presentations was "4-H Engineering Adventure." Members were divided into teams and given the following supplies: cardboard, Saran Wrap, duct tape, fun noodles, blow-up floating rings (used in swimming pools), a piece of PVC pipe and plastic plates.

The assignment was to take whatever they decided of the supplies and make a boat and paddle.

When the boat was finished, one person from each team got into the boat and maneuvered it from one end of the swimming pool to the other, using only the paddle.

If the boat didn't work, the team was given 10 minutes to see if they could fix it. Comstock said most of the boats worked.

From this workshop, the members learned the importance of team work and how science, engineering and technology are incorporated into solving a problem.

"Fear Factor 4-H Style" was another workshop. Grey Mello from Garfield County invited members to taste different foods - similar to television's "Fear Factor." All of the foods were animal products such as pickled pig's feet, beef tongue and intestines.

Shawna Woods, a coordinator from Colorado State University, led "Operations Military Kids." Participants were asked to bring photos on a Zip drive and then put them together to make memory albums.

State specialist Connie Cecil led a "Consumer Bowl," designed to teach participants about consumer science. A leadership training workshop was presented by Kensie Scott and Eric Wellman, college students and former 4-H members.

Rio Blanco Extension Agent Bill Ekstrom and Rio Blanco 4-H Youth Development Agent Dessa Linsley presented the "Reading Your Horse" workshop. Horse behaviors and what they mean were the focus of the presentation.

Workshop participants also got a chance to learn ballroom dancing techniques if they chose a workshop taught by a Routt County group, and Lori Fowle from Meeker taught 4-Hers about "Western Art and Visual Design."

Forty-four Moffat County 4-H members attended the District Retreat. Each member paid a registration fee, which covered costs for the room, meals and workshops. Special retreat T-shirts could be purchased.

The Moffat County 4-H Foundation helped pay registration costs and chaperone expenses.

"It was greatly appreciated that the Foundation helped with chaperone costs since we need the chaperones," Comstock said.

Planning for the District Retreat begins in October. Other people helping from the Moffat County Extension Office were Jackie Goodnow, Elisa Shackelton, Carol Hoskins and Carol Whitehead. Other participating agencies help, too.

"All seven agents that participate help out in planning and organizing the activities," Comstock said. "It's truly a multi-county effort."

Ekstrom summed up the 2008 4-H District Retreat.

"We didn't have any problems, and the kids have fun," she said.

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