This is the third in a series of summaries for Extension programming. Many people are not aware of the vast array of resources and opportunities that are offered through Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, so I hope you are enjoying reading these summaries! Today’s column features Skills Camp.
Relevance: According to Kids’ Count Data Center, 2015 statistics, the percentages of Texas children by the household’s head education attainment are as follows: Not a high school graduate – 20%; High school diploma or GED – 45%; Associates Degree – 7%; Bachelor’s Degree – 18%; Graduate degree – 10%. Additionally, the percentage of children who live in households whose parents lack secure employment is 28%. Statistics specifically for Hopkins County are not available, but we can predict that the numbers are similar.
The purpose of Skills Camp was to provide opportunities for youth in 5th and 6th grades to explore various skills, either as hobbies or careers, and to give them a better understanding of various fields of study. This was the third year for Skills Camp, which was planned, implemented, and evaluated by the Community Health/Wellness Alliance.
The four-day camp was created by request of parents whose children had ‘aged out’ of “Kids’ Camp: Fun, Food, Fitness”, which has been implemented by the Community Health/Wellness Alliance for younger students since 2010. The 2017 Skills Camp was the 3rd year for this camp. Topics were selected as the result of the 2016 survey.
Response: The four-day camp was created by request of parents whose children had ‘aged out’ of “Kids’ Camp: Fun, Food, Fitness”, which has been implemented by the Community Health/Wellness Alliance for younger students since 2010. The 2017 Skills Camp was the 3rd year for this camp. Topics were selected as the result of the 2016 survey.
Camp sessions provided were based on surveys from the previous year. Sessions were held at the Extension Office, with the exception of the first session (described below). Collaborators included a local artist, a retired Ag Teacher, a retired woodworker, and Master Wellness Volunteers.
The camp followed a 3-hour per day schedule. Students were asked to pay $15 (as able), in order to help defray expenses. Grade and ethnicity breakdown were: 5th grade – 6; 6th grade – 6; white – 7; black – 1; Hispanic – 4. Alliance members and Master Wellness Volunteers assisted with each session.
Results: The following sessions were held during the 2017 Skills Camp:
- Day #1 – Art: Students met at a local art studio, Brush of Class by Margo, and received guided instruction in creating a painting to keep. The subject was ice cream cones, in which each student was able to give it their own twist. Owner, Marcia Hinkeldey, provided instruction and bottled water for each student.
- Day #2 – Upcycling: This session involved creating pillows from shirts. Students were instructed to bring either a t-shirt or button up shirt to cut. I provided instruction on basic sewing skills (cutting with a rotary cutter, measuring, threading a sewing machine, filling a bobbin, etc.) Each participant completed their pillow. The second part of the upcycling session included making coasters from ceramic tiles, donated by a Master Wellness Volunteer. Using a decoupage medium and magazine pictures or paper shapes, each camper made four coasters.
- Day #3 – Woodworking: Mr. Dennis Sink (retired teacher, father-in-law of our current SSISD Superintendent), and Mr. Harold Bryant (retired Ag teacher), led the participants in building butterfly houses. Materials were donated by Lowes, Fix-and-Feed, and City National Bank. Each camper received a backpack with tools, goggles, tape measures, koozies, and other items. In addition, they used their creativity to individualize their butterfly houses with paint.
- Day #4 – Cooking: I took the lead in this session, assisted by Master Wellness Volunteers. Campers were given ingredients to make garlic cheese biscuits (baking), meat kabobs using an outdoor grill (pre-cooked sausage, bell peppers, onions, pineapple, and cherry tomatoes), banana boats using an outdoor grill (bananas, chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows), and fruit kabobs (strawberries, grapes, pineapple, mandarin oranges). This session also included knife safety, oven safety, and how to properly use an outdoor grill.
A survey was given on the final day, indicating the following:
– Favorite skill (in order): upcycling (6), art (3), woodworking and cooking tied with 2 votes each
– Other suggested topics (in order of popularity): photography (9), pottery (4), public speaking (4), leatherwork (2), and each receiving 1 votewere office skills, more baking, more art, and self-defense.
– Camp rating: Super Fun (12)
– New skills learned: sewing (5), upcycling (3), woodworking/nail gun (3), outdoor/indoor cooking (3)
– Intent to adopt practices learned: all 12 campers indicated they would use some of the skills learned during camp.
Future Implications: The Community Health/Wellness Alliance, assisted by FCS Committee and Master Wellness Volunteers, will plan the 2018 camp according to survey suggestions. Dates have been set for the summer. Registration forms will go out to Sulphur Springs 5th and 6th graders in the spring.
All our dreams can come true; if we have the courage to pursue them – Walt Disney