Our homeschooling group, the one we gather with once a week, sometimes more, to pool our energies and gather in enough numbers to take classes and go on field trips, is ostensibly a 4H club. I, ostensibly, am their 4H club leader. In our group that's not a big job. Most of our members don't even seem to know that they belong to a 4H club, so that makes my job easy. But over the two years I've had the job, I've slowly gotten to know the 4H machine better and better, and most of what I've learned is really great.
First, while most people when they hear 4H think cows, pigs, and sheep (oh my!), there's really a lot more to the group than that. 4H is really just a state run umbrella group for all kinds of clubs. As the parent group, 4H provides registration assistance, insurance, and even sometimes monetary support to the clubs that pay their nominal dues. So there are all kinds of clubs under the 4H umbrella, including dog training clubs or word working clubs in addition to the standard young farmer or horse clubs. There's our rather substantial homeschooling club, for instance, and at least one other club that resembles more a boy scout type assembly than a farm hand guild. It takes all kinds, and the varieties are far reaching.
Second, once you've paid your dues through your own parent club (for us that's our homeschooling group), you may participate in any other 4H club or activity for which you are otherwise elligible. The door is wide open! Come check it all out! Both this and last year, Calvin participated in our local 4H archery club, where, for just $1 per Tuesday evening, he got to borrow their equipment and their expertise for two hours of archery fun. They also offer classes or workshops throughout the year. Next year we're thinking about taking part in the photography workshops. And the 4H mother office is considering adding some fine arts classes or clubs, including creative writing, theater, and music. I know he'd love that.
The 4H year is wrapped up late every July, just before the August last hurrah vacations and the beginning of a new school year. The wrap up consists of a week of activities that show off what the kids have learned or accomplished during the year. There is a day of still project showing (those being anying that does not include livestock in some way), a variety of contests and competitions throughout the week (some including livestock, some not), and a final fun day of tournaments and silly races. Calvin showed woodowrking, photography, poetry, and educational wildlife notebooks as still projects this year. He participated in the make something out of foam scraps challenge, and competed in the archery tournament. He also got a little crazy in the end of the week olympic game challenge. We ate ice cream, got face (or arm) paint, hung out with a lot of friends, and, yes, saw the obligatory cows, chickens, horses, etc. Oh, and rabbit agility. Can't miss rabbit agility.