Hartford County 4-H Camp

Volunteer Spotlight: Nate McMullin of Hartford County 4-H Camp

Nate McMullinHartford County 4-H Camp, located on 100 acres in Marlborough, Connecticut has been offering camp experience for over 56 years to youth ranging from age 7 to 15. 4-H camp offers various options and sessions throughout the summer months and hosts small team building events in the off season for teenagers. Bring-your-own horse camp is offered where kids can bring their horse for a week. 4-H camp also offers teen counselor positions which is a great opportunity for youth to learn leadership and responsibility. Nate McMullin serves as a board member for Hartford County 4-H Camp. He volunteers his time by serving on various committees and overseeing the hiring of staff, facility maintenance and programming.

Nate’s love for camp started when he spent many summers as a camper, counselor and then staff member since 1986. He joined the Camp Board in 2011. His love for camp is the reason he volunteers his time to the program. Nate brings a unique perspective to the board since he attended camp in his youth, served in a leadership role as a staff member, and is a parent of camp age kids.  He enjoys being able to see his work be put into motion and what is happening with camp behind the scenes. Nate feels that serving as a volunteer on the board allows him to make an impact and keep camp strong, especially through COVID. He reflects, “I am proud of the work the board has done to have camp reopen for 2021.”

Board members volunteer their time to make camp a better place and serve on various committees. Nate served on the communications and security committee and helped bring Wi-Fi to camp; it previously had no broadband internet and relied on a very expensive mobile hotspot. He used his skills in business technology to create a stable communications network that allowed for camp to have additional security cameras and cover the main buildings of camp with stable internet connection. He is currently working on extending the internet service to cover more acres of camp and all buildings.

COVID offered a challenge to 4-H camp which in a normal year hosts 163 campers every session for 8 weeks throughout the summer. Nate set up an online course system where parents could still register kids for camp for summer 2020. Kids attended online Zoom sessions (similar to what students use in the classroom) along with other digital content that was coordinated by camp staff. Although it didn’t replace the in-person fun campers have every summer, it was still a success. Nate would like to explore more options like this in the future for off-season to keep kids connected with the camp experience all year long. 

Nate is able to contribute his expertise and time to help camp grow and give back. One of his favorite memories of being a volunteer is visiting the camp staff and dining at camp. His experiences have come full circle since he remembers being a camper when the board visited. This time at camp gives him a first hand view of camp at the moment.  When asked if he has any advice for new Extension volunteers, he says to contribute your time if possible there are so many opportunities to do so and every little bit helps!

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn CAHNR Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, citizenship and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living. Learn more and enroll your child in the UConn 4-H program at http://4-H.uconn.edu/.

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. Learn more about our volunteer programs at s.uconn.edu/volunteers.

Article by Emily Syme

Elsie Woolam Named 2017 National 4-H Hall of Fame Inductee

By Nancy Wilhelm

Elsie Woolam
Elsie Woolam. Photo: Nancy Wilhelm

Congratulations to Elsie Woolam for her selection as a member of the 2017 National 4-H Hall of Fame. The National 4-H Hall of Fame honors 4-H volunteers, extension professionals and staff employees, donors and others who have made a significant impact on the 4-H program and /or 4-H members through the contribution of time, energy, and financial resources. The Class of 2017 consists of 16 laureates from around the country. The induction ceremony will take place on October 6, 2017 at the National 4-H Center in Chevy, Chase, Maryland.

Elsie’s dedication to the Connecticut 4-H program began 65 years ago as a 4-H member in Hartford County. She participated in a variety of animal projects along with clothing and dress revue and has fond memories of showing the Grand Champion steer at the Hartford County 4-H Fair as well as showing two steers at the Eastern States Exposition.

She began volunteering for 4-H in 1955 where she was active on many Hartford County committees planning Favorite Foods shows, Clothing Revues, awards programs and interstate exchanges as well as many statewide activities. She was also the leader of five separate 4-H clubs teaching life skills to hundreds of local youth in the areas of horse, livestock, home arts and leadership. She has been active with the Hartford County 4-H Fair for over 30 years, serving as advisor and assisting with countless “behind the scenes” activities such as putting the premium book together and helping with fair banquets and ad campaigns. Elsie has received the Connecticut 4-H Alumni Award and the Connecticut 4-H Leadership Award. In 1970 her family which includes her husband, Dick (now deceased) and four children received the Hartford County Honor 4-H Family Award illustrating the entire family’s dedication to 4-H.

Elsie is most well known for her work with the Hartford County 4-H Camp in Marlborough, CT. She and her husband, Dick, were part of a group of dedicated volunteers who spearheaded the purchase of land in Marlborough, CT for a 4-H camp, raising $175,000 to build it. She and Dick played a key role in the camp construction at the 75-acre site. The camp opened in 1966 and it is here that Elsie has dedicated her time and energy to providing memorable overnight camping experiences to thousands of children both at home and abroad. Elsie has easily impacted the lives of over 55,000 youth and counselors through the Hartford County 4-H Camp. When the camp opened she began as a volunteer staff member and then moved into the role of Camp Director, a role she served in until 1994. Elsie continues to be involved in all aspects of the camp’s operation and mentors the staff and directors providing them with guidance and confidence.

When the 4-H camp’s 5,000 square foot dining hall/activity center collapsed in February, 2011, Elsie was involved in every aspect of the Baldwin Hall rebuild project offering historical, logistical and practical insight. This was critical to the effort to have the building up and operational in time for the 2011 camping season in June. Elsie has been instrumental in growing the camp’s endowment as well as expanding the camp property from 75 to 100 acres. She is dedicated to providing financial assistance to youth who cannot afford to attend 4-H camp and in bringing inner-city youth to the camp as well. If these underserved youth do not have a ride to camp, Elsie goes into the city to get them. The Hartford County 4-H Camp has close to a 100 percent fill rate every summer with a wait list for many of the weekly sessions.

At the age of 80, Elsie shows no signs of slowing down. She continues to serve the South Windsor community where she has lived most of her life, and has received awards for her service.   Of her 4-H experience she states, “My relationship with 4-H began as a young teen. Little did I know that over my lifetime local, state and national 4-H events would help create lasting friendships with generations of families that included staff from at least a dozen foreign countries. Teaching, demonstrating, solving problems, and chaperoning were a huge part of working with all 4-Hers.”