Life skills and lifelong friendships formed at Canter’s Cave

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One 4-H camp in Ohio needed funding to "Raise the Roof".

10.12.16
Growing up on a 100-acre farm in Seaman, Ohio, certainly helped 14-year old Bonnie Simpkins build a foundation of valuable skills. Daily lessons in self-confidence, perseverance and adaptability are all part of rural living. Spending the past five summers at Canter’s Cave in southwest Ohio have helped hone those leadership skills in preparation for her future.

Simpkins dreams of pursuing a career as an author, psychiatrist or politician. For her and the rest of rural America’s next leaders, the mix of nature and education found at Canter’s Cave is the perfect springboard to achieve those dreams.
“It gives me opportunities to explore job skills and identify career goals,” says Bonnie. “By participating in projects that require leadership, public speaking and creative writing, I’m learning those skills.”

Beyond participating in leadership development activities at Canter’s Cave, Simpkins also serves as camp ambassador, sits on an advisory committee and is president of her 4-H club. She plans to attend a 4-H leadership camp, become a state 4-H ambassador and participate in Citizen Focus and the 4-H foreign exchange program.

In addition to Bonnie, the camp hosts nearly 1,000 youth from across the region each summer. Campers from all over Ohio and neighboring states experience the joys and lessons rural living offers.

4-H camps, such as Canter’s Cave, do important work helping today’s youth develop communication, team building, decision-making and leadership skills. They provide opportunities to form new friendships and networks as campers share in these experiences together.

“I keep in contact with people from my county and see others at camp and at statewide 4-H activities,” Bonnie says. “Every time I do something with 4-H, I add to my network of friends.”

With an emphasis on connecting and improving the lives of the next generation, Canter’s Cave strives to keep costs low. This leaves little money for maintenance.

In order to protect personal growth opportunities for future generations, the camp launched the Raise the Roof Capital Campaign to generate $80,000 to repair roofs of buildings throughout the camp site. Farm Credit Mid-America pledged up to $40,000 in matching funds and challenged businesses, county 4-H programs and others to raise an additional $40,000 for the campaign. The program was so successful that the amount needed to repair the roofs was reached before the challenge deadline of September 30.

“Many Farm Credit employees have attended, or have children who attend, 4-H camps like Canter’s Cave. We understand that campers treasure these experiences,” says Wendy Osborn, regional vice president in Ohio. “There is great importance in developing the next generation of agricultural leaders. Supporting initiatives such as Raise the Roof is one way we help secure the future of rural communities and agriculture.”

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