From what I hear, 4-H used to be a super fun thing to be in. The kids all hung out together and they all knew each other. It was a fun social thing. It was pretty casual and everyone did the best they could and helped each other to achieve success. The older members helped the younger members and were awarded for being youth leaders. It gave them a real sense of accomplishment and responsibility.
I wasn't in 4-H when I was a kid so I don't know if any of that is true. I've heard that from a few parents now. They said they really wanted their child to have the same kind of experience so they've searched out local clubs to join. They say it just isn't the same now. I can't help but wonder if it's 4-H that's changed or if it's only different to them because they are experiencing it now as an adult, rather than as a child in the club. They all say that it seems much more competitive now than it was in the past and that the kids only seem to be in it for the check they get at the end of the year.
What do I think? I think that my daughter has learned a lot being in 4-H. I think she's had a lot of opportunities to learn and participate in things that she wouldn't have otherwise. I think she's met a lot of great kids from all over our state. Her first camping experience was with 4-H and she loved it! I think it's a super program for her. There's quite a bit of drama surrounding the horse project so I won't get into that but that is one overwhelming project let me tell you! Other than that, I have to say that everything else has been very positive.
As a parent, yes, I'm overwhelmed with all the things going on. It seems we are always working on a project or going to a clinic or workshops about different things. There's also a ton of paperwork that needs to be filled out. The paperwork is a little out of hand. We've been mentoring a few new families this year and I've already had 2 moms call me up bawling because they missed a deadline here or there and their children were very upset. There's not a lot of guidance from the parent perspective. The first year that we were in it, I called myself the renegade mom because I couldn't seem to get any of the paperwork into the right place by the right time so we would just show up and participate anyways.
I think 4-H is a wonderful program and my only regret is that I didn't know about it when my older kids were young. They would have loved it!!