4-H Camp: A Year-Round Operation

— Written By
4-H recruiters

Recruitment at Carolina Parent Camp Fair

One of the most common questions we get as camp professionals is:

“Summer camp is only three months of the year. What do you do during the other nine months of the year?”

That’s a great question! While 4-H camp may only be during a few months of the summer, we keep busy year-round with planning, preparations, and programming.


Our annual auxiliary budget planning cycle is January through March each year. Each 4-H Center has its own individual budget they are responsible for. Budgets range from a few hundred thousand dollars to almost a million dollars in operating costs. Budgets are planned at the camp level, then at the state office level, then reviewed by the College Budget Office and then the University Budget Office. This is a couple month process.

Facilities Improvements

We are inspected annually by the Office of the State Fire Marshal and receive written fire and safety inspection reports, which we must address and resolve safety issues. We complete hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs and renovations across our camps through a prioritized basis. During the winter months, we winterize our buildings and facilities and don’t schedule any events or programs during the holidays.


In order to provide camperships to youth with limited resources to attend a week of camp, we plan and host a variety of annual signature fundraising events, including:

  • On the Dock of the Bay at Eastern 4-H Center – 1st Saturday in May
  • Pickin’ in the Pines at Millstone 4-H Camp – 3rd Saturday in October


A good portion of our off-season is to spend marketing our summer camps to increase summer camp enrollment. We lead a variety of marketing efforts including:

  • February – Carolina Parent Camp Fair in the Triangle and Wilmington Camp Fair at Mayfaire Town Center
  • March – Dixie Deer Classic at NC State Fairgrounds

Open Houses

We host open houses at each of our three 4-H Centers for the general public. Our Open Houses for 2020 are scheduled for:

  • Eastern 4-H Center – Saturday, April 19, from 2-5 p.m.
  • Betsy-Jeff Penn 4-H Educational Center – Sunday, May 3, from 2–6 p.m.
  • Millstone 4-H Camp – Saturday, May 9, from 2–4:30 p.m.

Professional Development

Our camp team attends a variety of district, state, regional, and national conferences. American Camp Association (ACA) conferences include the ACA Southeastern Camp Conference in the fall, Camps on Campus meetings, and the National Camp Conference in February. We also attend the North Carolina Youth Camp Association (NCYCA) fall meeting in September, winter meeting in January, and spring meeting in May.

Staff Recruitment, Hiring, and Training

We post-summer camp counselor and instructor positions on the university’s job postings website in January/February. We attend summer camp employment recruitment fairs at several UNC institutions. We conduct phone and in-person interviews in March and April and make hiring decisions and job offers. We conduct thorough reference checks and background checks on every hire. We conduct 10-12 days of summer camp staff training, including:

  • First Aid, CPR, and AED certification training
  • Lifeguard certification training
  • Risk management and safety
  • Behavior management
  • Child abuse prevention, recognition, and mandated reporting training
  • Ages and Stages of child development
  • Skill-specific activity training:
    • Archery
    • Boating (canoeing/kayaking)
    • Challenge Course
    • Climbing Wall
  • Combined Camp Staff Training

Strategic Planning

We host a semi-annual staff retreat where we:

  • Conduct necessary and required university training
  • Conduct cost analyses of our expense and fees
  • Participate in team building activities

Year-Round Programming

During the school year, we host a variety of conferences, events, programs, retreats, and workshops. We serve thousands of youth during the school year and even more adults on the weekends.


While you may just be starting to think about making plans for your child this summer, know that we plan and prepare year-round to make 4-H camp the best week of the summer for your child!