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Our Illinois 4-H Story

Parent shares comfort in knowing her child is in great hands at 4-H camp

Leaving a child at camp for the first time can be scary for parents. In nearly 20 years at 4-H Memorial Camp in Monticello, Curt Sinclair, University of Illinois Extension statewide camping educator, said he never tires from getting these types of emails from parents: "I wanted to reach out to you because yesterday, I dropped my kids off at camp. I was very worried and scared, probably more than the kids. After I met the staff, all my worries were over. There is no way I could ever provide this experience for my kids alone. My father served in the Air Force. My son currently serves in the Army, and I'm a veteran as well. What you all are doing is a blessing. I had a two-hour drive home and cried all the way home, tears of joy."

The camping experience not only changes lives of the campers and their families; it changes the lives of counselors and staff. Clark County 4-H member Patrick Wells posted this on Facebook: "I didn't cry during Dad's funeral. I didn't cry at graduation. I cried during the last 4-H camp dance. After 11 summers, eight as a camper, two as a counselor and this year as a staff member, I will tell stories about everything I experienced. I will tell my future friends about the family I found here and how they mean so much to me." Counselors such as Patrick are the reason Curt receives so many positive reports from parents and youth from their camping experience.

Judy Mae Bingman, University of Illinois Extension Marketing and Communications Manager

Judy uses powerful words and photography to tell the Extension story. She is a skilled communication strategist and storyteller with demonstrated success in building teams and creating strong organizational brand identities that deepen Extension’s impact among key audiences, build brand loyalty, strengthen employee talent, and expand public engagement. She is a frequent conference presenter at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Conference and helps Extension staff across the nation tell compelling stories.