Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Jersey Roots, Global Reach: 4-H Climate Science Educational Program: A Sustainable Communities Project at Rutgers NJAES]

Family Camp

Family Camp was an opportunity to create a supportive, educational and fun environment for the families in NJ's identified children, youth and families at-risk (CYFAR) community projects. The vision was to provide experiential learning/exploring activities that would reinforce the family unit and increase communication among family members. The family as a whole participated in various "challenge by choice" activities that challenged individuals to learn about each other, respect each other, and spend quality time together all in the backdrop of one of NJ's most beautiful wooded State Forests.

Beginning Friday night with name games and warm up activities, the families began to adjust to each other and the camp surroundings. Saturday morning, the families continued with warm up activities and gradually moved into cooperative challenges. Each family created a Being, a picture of a lifesize person that represented the family. Within the being, the family put words and ideas that the family valued. Outside the being, the family put words and ideas that were barriers to obtaining the identified family values. The beings were displayed for the others at camp to see. The afternoon challenges relied on increased cooperation and communication in order to successfully complete the task (The families defined "successfully complete"). The Saturday evening activities focused on the compilation of a family memory book that each member of the family contributed to. The book guided parents to discuss their hopes and dreams for their children as well as the children to reflect what it is they like best about being a member of their family. The bon fire was old-fashioned camp fun, complete with s'mores and reflecting on the days activities. Sunday was a morning of continued traditional camp activities of boating, swimming, hiking, and fishing. The families spent this quality time together before boarding the bus with a bag lunch for home.