4-H’ers raise money for Military Kids camp

Noah Samuelson (middle, second from left) started a statewide fundraiser to raise money for Wisconsin 4-H Military Kids. Samuelson poses with campers from the 2016 season.

One Wisconsin 4-H’er invited community clubs across the state to look out for a special group starting summer camp this week at Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center.

Noah Samuelson, president of the Rio Go-Getters in Columbia County, spearheaded a fundraiser to support a camp for young people whose parents serve in the military. These young people can experience emotional challenges when their parents are away during a tour of service, as well as when they return. Families can be separated for more than a year at a time. Their parents miss so many important events — concerts, sporting events, honor banquets, club meetings, prom, and even graduation. When their parents return, it can be difficult for families to communicate.

“While my hope is that campers learn more about coping with having parents in the military and that there are other youth who share similar feelings, I also hope they just have fun because it is nice to relax,” says Samuelson.

In early 2017, Samuelson initiated a Change Challenge — a call to every 4-H club in Wisconsin to save their change and set up jars in local businesses to collect money to support Wisconsin 4-H Military Kids. The 27 clubs that participated raised nearly $3,500 for camps for the children of military service people. Samuelson’s call to raise funds in 2016 collected more than $2,000 for the cause.

Wisconsin 4-H Military Kids provides opportunities for service members and their families to take part in outings like summer camps for children of military service people. Approximately 75 children attend camps at Upham Woods in Wiscon­sin Dells each summer. These camps provide children of military families with a place to go and share their feelings with other children experiencing the same emotions. They create friendships and outlets for sharing with one another. They have a few days to relax and have fun.

Congratulations — and thank you! — to the winners of the Wisconsin Operation Military Kids Change Challenge! Winners are:

First Place: Douglas Doers 4-H Club (total of $640 — $500 donated via Briggsville American Legion Auxiliary)
Runner-Up: Richfield Rebels 4-H Club ($408.90)
Honorable Mention: Wood Creek 4-H Club ($304.86 with contributions from Wood Creek Jolly H’s, Wood River Beavers and Orange 4-H Clubs