Traditionally, summer is a time when students have plenty of time on their hands before returning to classes in the fall.
Many children engage in such leisurely activities as swimming, basketball, softball, and other things to keep busy during the summer months.
For some, the large amount of free time is an opportunity to do constructive projects geared for their betterment, or for helping others. One organization providing such opportunities is the Endless Mountains Community 4-H Club.
“We’re one of the largest in the state, with 75 to 100 kids,” explained Amanda Ruark of Meshoppen, who serves as a group leader.
She said that members can work on up to 15 projects via multiple programs. However, kids are encourage to narrow their focus, because of the amount of work required, Ruark explain.
One member is Ruark’s son, Camden, 9, who has been with 4-H for the past two years.
“My mom is a leader in 4-H,” Camden said when asked why he became a 4-H member. “A lot of my friends did it, so I decided to do it as well.”
Camden’s 4-H project involves creating body products such as soap, lotion, chap stick, and deodorant.
“My mom did it, and it sounded fun,” he said.
This is the second year that Camden has made soap. Like many other 4-H members, he submits his project to the Wyoming County Community Fair. Last year, his soap won third or fourth place, he said.
Camden uses a variety of items to create his products, including goat’s milk. He obtains the milk from five female dairy goats that he raises.
Other ingredients he obtains separately include almond oil, essential oil, coconut oil, and cocoa butter.
“We mix them together in a bowl,” Camden explained. “Then pour them into a double boiler. It melts and then we pour in the goat’s milk base. Then I add the essential oils and almond oils.”
Camden also makes candles with bees wax.
4-H offers a wide variety of activities to its members. Kallie Gavek, 8, of Meshoppen, is growing jack-o-lantern pumpkins in her garden which she will be submitting for judgement at the Wyoming County Community Fair.
This is Kallie’s first year in 4-H, although she has been gardening since she was five years old. Kallie became interested in gardening and 4-H through her grandmother, Ginger Howell, who is a 4-H leader.
“I want to make a jack-o-lantern,” Kallie said about why she was entering the fair. “I want to make the biggest pumpkin.”
Last year, Kallie grew pumpkins weighing an average of 20 to 25 pounds - with one tipping the scales at 40 pounds. She saved the seeds from the big one, and has planted them in the hopes they will produce a winner at the fair.
Howell said there are three categories Kallie can enter with her pumpkins: the largest pumpkin; the most uniform pair of pumpkins; and the best carved pumpkin.
Kallie will also be entering flowers she is growing at the fair - including marigolds, red bachelor buttons, gladiolus, portulaca, and sunflowers.
“Because they’re pretty and smell good,” she explained.
Howell is also helping her granddaughter make flower arrangements which she will also submit at the fair.
“I hope to win a prize this year,” Kallie said.
Kallie has also recently gotten a taste of farm life through 4-H, having helped her uncle, Wally Farr, make hay for the first time.
“I helped roll the bales off the wagon,” she said.