Iowa 4-H Center Provides Immersion In Wellness

Iowa 4-H Center Provides Immersion In Wellness

Each summer, youth from all over the state visit the Iowa 4-H Center for a week of camp fun. This year campers have a special opportunity.

Each summer, youth from all over the state visit the Iowa 4-H Center in central Iowa for a week of camping fun. This year, youth enrolled in two camps--Everything Camp and Counselors in Training Camp--will have the opportunity to participate in a research study conducted by Iowa State University Extension targeted toward lowering childhood obesity in the state.

According to Ruth Litchfield, professor and state nutrition Extension specialist at ISU, childhood obesity has the potential to diminish the quality of life for millions of American youth and financially bankrupt the healthcare system. The two camps will immerse youth in health promoting activities.

Iowa 4-H Center Provides Immersion In Wellness

"Educational programs have had success using immersion to help students learn second languages and experience other cultures. We're conducting this research study because we see great potential in using immersion to teach youth about wellness," Litchfield says. "We're going to not only create and deliver experiential health and wellness, but truly 'immerse' youth in an environment which fosters health promoting behaviors."

Campers will have opportunity to participate in five different topics

The immersion experiences will develop the youths' skills and abilities so they can succeed, and transfer the positive health behaviors they experience at camp to their home and community, Litchfield says. Youth will have the opportunity to participate in five immersions: nutrition education, gardening, culinary skills, physical activity and a health-promoting environment.

"Most people know the basics of what is healthy versus what is not," says Litchfield. "Through the activities at camp, we are trying to empower youth to take charge of their health and wellbeing." Campers enrolled in either camp can sign up to participate in the research study. Should they choose to enter the study, campers can receive up to a $65 camper scholarship.

"The Iowa 4-H Center is devoted to helping kids develop to their highest potential and lead healthy lives," says Abbie Parker, Iowa 4-H Center program specialist. "Through this new camp experience, we're hoping to help youth learn more about growing and preparing healthy food and participating in physical activity to lead healthier lives."

About the Iowa 4-H Center. Go to for information. Situated on 1,100 acres of wooded bluff and native prairie in the heart of central Iowa 's spectacular Des Moines River Valley, the Iowa 4–H Center offers a variety of conference, lodging, and program facilities to meet the needs of any group. The 4-H Center consists of five independent villages, a cottage, a central dining/meeting lodge, swimming pool, recreational grounds and 11 miles of hiking trails. All villages except Maple are open year-round. All lodges feature modern full service bathrooms with hot water and showers. Each village has its own outdoor campfire ring, inspiration point and indoor fireplace. In total, the Iowa 4-H Center can house up to 388 people during the summer season and 294 during the winter season.

Immersion In Wellness Camp. Click on for more information. Campers enrolled in camp at the Iowa 4-H Center are encouraged to enroll in a research study conducted by ISU Extension. Select weeks of Everything Camp and Counselors in Training will engage youth in a variety of wellness learning activities (nutrition, gardening, culinary science, physical activity, health-promoting environment), whereas the remaining weeks of camp will take part in the traditional camp experience.

About the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program. 4-H is the youth program of America's Cooperative Extension Service and is the nation's largest youth development organization, serving more than 6 million young people across the United States with programs in leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills.

One in five Iowa school-age youth participates in Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development programs, headquartered at the Iowa State University campus in Ames and available through ISU Extension and Outreach offices in all Iowa counties. 4-H is supported by federal, state and county funding, private grants and donations, and fees. For more information about joining 4-H, contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office or visit the Iowa 4-H website.

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