Monday, July 9, 2012

A 4-H Autobiography

Writing about my time in 4-H is like writing an autobiography. Every major milestone, each significant life choice--they can all be traced back to my experiences as a 4-Her. When I was 8-years old, my mom signed me up for my first 4-H club as a way to make friends in a new town. Well, Mom, mission accomplished. Eventually, I built enough confidence to hop on a bus destined for sleepaway camp. That week in the woods offered far more than just air rifles, swimming, and campfires. I gained a newfound sense of independence, community, and self-confidence. Never before had I felt so free to just be myself, a feeling that every kid deserves to experience. Camp sparked a passion that I have never been able to extinguish, nor would I want to. Needless to say, I was hooked. For the next 8 summers, I was at Camp Shehaqua without fail either as a camper or counselor. Along the way, my arch-nemesis (it was 4th grade, we were dramatic) joined my club and eventually, started going to camp. As the years went on, we both became counselors and were forced to work side-by-side. In helping to make sure camp ran smoothly, we realized that we had to move past our rivalry if we wanted camp to be a success. After leading countless songs and activities together, we eventually became friends, best friends. Ten years later, we’re still attached at the hip. In fact, we even went to the same university (We Are...Penn State!) A few years later, this very friend started working at another 4-H camp and invited me to apply. All of my experience with Pike County made me a shoe-in for the position. Once again, 4-H did not let me down. Not only did I meet some of the most incredible and truly inspiring individuals while working there, but also my boyfriend--my English boyfriend. Fast forward two years, I’m living in England and pursuing a Masters degree, all thanks to 4-H. 16 years after my first 4-H meeting, I can honestly say that this organization hasn’t changed my life, but modeled it. I’m proud to say that I am and forever will be a 4-Her. ~Jaclyn Bealer

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