Summer fun for everyone

Summer school is in full swing in our area, giving parents an option to keep their children in a safe and fun place that the kids are familiar with. Fun with reading and math programs are designed to keep the kids progressing forward. The daily programs are limited to just four hours, with school breakfast included, but not lunch. Games, crafts, sports, science, outdoor exploration and more are other options for the families to choose for the four hours. There are three sessions for two weeks each, with July open with no programs.
When my children were in elementary and middle school, they loved summer school because they would have other kids who came back to the farm to hang out after. Their parents worked, and they liked that their kids would be at the farm, working, learning and having fun.
They would all run off the bus and rush into the house. There, they would throw their backpacks into a pile and eat lunch together. Once outside again, they would ride bikes, create mazes in the mow with straw bales, build forts in the tree line and anything else they could do with imagination and creativity. Most of what happened was farm mom approved. However, every once in a while, I would need to see what all the laughing was about and find them all covered in manure.
This year, our herdsman’s children are in summer school and getting picked up and dropped off at the farm. They are running up to my porch with backpacks filled with books and crafts. I am making sure they get a good lunch so that they can ride their bikes and explore the tree lines. We have been busy planting flower and vegetable seeds. We have been making crafts from nature using rocks, sticks, feathers and pinecones. Building a fort is on our list of summer fun things to do. This spring, these children did get chicks and ducklings. I have plans to try to get them into 4-H next year. I am working hard to keep these kids engaged and active, making their imaginations soar.
Summer for my kids was also all about taking animals and projects to the fairs. We had 4-H animal projects walking and sometimes running through the yard. The heifers would get haltered and training would begin. Patience and practice were always the way to bond with the animals. They spent their time washing, clipping and learning the best way to get nice toplines on their heifers. Then, there was carding and fitting the sheep, clipping the pigs and goats. The chickens were fairly easy; they just got a bath the day before the fair. So much work, but the pride on their faces when the judges gave them a blue ribbon is priceless.
After the fair season, my kids went to 4-H camp at Upham Woods and also Kamp Kenwood. Getting them off the farm and into nature was my plan. Inviting their friends to go with them was an added bonus. The other campers from all over the state would meet up every summer for a fun-filled week. We would carpool to camp and back. While driving them off the farm or away from home, the conversations in the van were filled with excitement and anxiety. Stories of past summer camps with ticks, spooky stories around the campfire, the plays they participated in and silly songs that were learned eased them into comfort zones to prepare for their new year’s adventures at camp. Both camps offer fun activities, crafts, field games, campfires, swimming, nature walks, singing, kayaks, canoes and paddle boards, plays and lessons that are fun. These friends from camp are lifelong connections who follow each other on social media.
I had four kids attend these camps. Some years when milk prices were high, it was an easy commitment to sign them up knowing this was their time to be kids. Other years were a bit tough, but both camps offer scholarships.
I looked into Kamp Kenwood for our herdsman’s children and was very happy to see that scholarships were still available to all families. Speaking to Grace Clardy, the new educational director at Kamp Kenwood, I found out she herself had a great experience growing up and attending camp.
Grace said, “My time as a camper was a life-changing experience, and I would not have been able to attend without a scholarship. We have made our scholarships application open to everyone without requiring personal financial information. Our goal is to provide a space for all campers to step away from the real world for a few days and just focus on making friends, having fun, learning and being a kid.”
There are a variety of camps offered for different ages and dates and even a family camp, so even the little ones can attend camp with older siblings and stay with a parent in the cabin.
I’ve got it covered so our herdsman can take all four of his children, ages 5 to 13, to camp together. I am certain this will be the highlight of their summer.  
    Tina Hinchley, her husband Duane and daughter Anna milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots.  They also farm 2,300 acres near Cambridge, Wisconsin. The Hinchleys have been hosting farm tours for over 25 years.


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