Thursday, July 23, 2015

Learning Life Lessons & Skills

Having spent the past nine months with this 4H club -- and barely scratching the surface of what 4H has to offer and what these young people are capable of -- I believe very strongly that whether it's 4H or Girl Guides or Scouts or Junior Achievement, or whatever organization it is, it's essential that a young person get involved in it.
Sports teaches us certain skills and gives us certain life experiences but in an athletic context; those lessons learned are transferable in an intangible way (leadership, winning versus losing, practice) but these other organizations teach our young people actual life skills that can become a future career or be applied to a future career (hello, 4H public speaking!). So it is important that there everyone spends a couple of years at least in a non-school organization.
I know I'd be a different person if I'd moved into Girl Guides from Brownies or joined a 4H club, which wasn't an option since we lived in town.
Which needs to be commented on: It's even more important for 4H to be offered in towns, to allow children the access to rabbits and chickens (oh, those damn anti-poulty bylaws) and cake decorating and welding. How about outdoor skills? What a great way to connect children to survival skills than the 4H Great Outdoors Project? You never know when a city kid going to camp or a cottage for a week may need to know how to light a fire in the woods.
Joining one of these organizations is especially significant now with such deep cuts to education. My mother and I recently were talking about my school Home Ec experience in 1982. We both agreed it was useless. I didn't learn the basics of cooking or sewing which were then built on over the years; my strongest memory was having to sew a bag then a skirt. But I hadn't mastered simple sewing yet!
Call me biased, for that's what I am, but in many ways, 4H provides young people with a more valuable education than many of them are getting in school these days.

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