Hannah Orndorff demonstrates how to make a craft during a video chat with participants of the 4-H Day Camp in a Box program through the Shenandoah County Cooperative Extension Office.

Children interested in participating in 4-H this summer can attend day camps from home using activity boxes and logging in to Zoom chats with camp counselors.

Camps for children ages 5-12 started in June and are continuing through July, said Carol Nansel, extension agent with the Shenandoah County Office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

July’s 4-H Day Camp in a Box program will offer four themes:

STEM — July 13-14

Baking/Cooking — July 15-16

Nature — July 27-28

Crafts — July 29-30

Registration for the first two camps has been extended through Thursday.

Registration for the second two camps will end on July 13.

Participants can pick up a box with activities and challenges, instructions, supplies, access to “how-to” videos, info on an optional Zoom morning energizer and a camp T-shirt. Activities are suited for children ages 5-12, with some adult guidance required.

Each box comes with all the materials children will need to complete their projects.

So far the programs have been a hit, Nansel said.

“It went really well,” she said of the June camps. “People were really happy with it.”

She said 4-H Day Camp in a Box program developed after all local in-person 4-H summer day and resident camp programs were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Day Camps in a Box are being done around the country,” she said. Various group leaders have shared ideas that she said have been useful in helping the local 4-H develop their plans.

Though other groups have focused more heavily on virtual programs, she said video conferencing is only a small, optional part of the Shenandoah County camps.

“Around here, connectivity is an issue for some children,” she said.

However, she said children are encouraged to upload photos of their camp experiences and their finished projects if they wish.

Other challenges included the planning team having to work remotely to complete programming plans, Nansel said.

Summer 4-H Program Assistant Bethany Gochenour has taken the lead on all of the camps, and summer 4-H intern Hannah Orndorff has been assisting with the camps as well as developing lesson plans and “how-to” videos for all activities included in the boxes.

“Both of these young adults have done a fabulous job,” Nansel said.

The June camps were launched as general interest tests but were so successful (both maxed out with 49 campers) that she said the extension office opened up four more camps for July.

Though the camps in June were free because of outside donations and funding the 4-H already had in its account, Nansel said the July camps will be $30 each to cover supplies and T-shirts.

The program has received donations of supplies from Domino’s in Woodstock, Route 11 Potato Chips, Susan St. Amand, Rockingham Cooperative Ace Hardware in Strasburg and the Shenandoah County Landfill.

All of the camps offer fun activities that families can do at home, Nansel said.

“A lot of the parents were really getting into it as much as the kids were.”

For more information on the four programs and to register, go to:





Contact the Shenandoah County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension at 459-6140, or email bethany8@vt.edu or cnansel@vt.edu.

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com