Summer camp is a 4-H tradition in Southwest Missouri, but 55 southwest Missouri teens recently experienced more than just a week away from home.
“This year, those who attended Teen Camp spent a few hours making dresses from pillowcases for Little Dresses for Africa,” said Karla Deaver, 4-H youth development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
Little Dresses for Africa is a non-profit 501c3 organization that provides relief to the children of Africa. Simple dresses are made out of pillow cases, and distributed through the orphanages, churches and schools in Africa.
For over 70 years, community service and hands-on learning has been an important part of 4-H according to Deaver.
“When you put community service and hands-on learning together appropriately, the result goes beyond a feel good experience,” said Deaver. “These become service activities that impact both the provider and the recipient.”
More than 80 dresses were made from simple pillowcases that were either donated or were brought by the campers. The pattern was provided by Little Dresses for Africa, and the dresses will be sent to the organization in July. Some of the supplies were purchased using a grant from the Missouri 4-H Foundation and the William T. Kemper Foundation.
“We began incorporating community service into our teen camp program a few years ago,” said Deaver. “This project was a natural since our theme this year was Safari. We focused our educational program on learning about African culture, food, history, and animals. This project gave us a way to help the teens connect to the culture we studied.”
There are currently over 23,000 Missouri youth participating in 4-H clubs, with over 290,000 youth being reached by the variety of Missouri 4-H programs in 2011. Missouri 4-H is a program of University of Missouri (MU) Extension.
For information on 4-H contact any of these 4-H youth development specialists in southwest Missouri: Velynda Cameron in Greene County at (417) 881-8909; Bob McNary in Jasper County at (417) 358-2158; Karla Deaver in Lawrence County at (417) 466-3102; or Jeremy Elliott-Engel in Newton County at (417) 455-9500.
For more information on Missouri 4-H youth programs, visit the 4-H website at http://4h.missouri.edu