|Julie Mitchell gets her daughter Dianna ready for the water boil at the 4H county rally.|
Dianna Mitchell and Maggie Broughton lay on the cold, wet asphalt in the Pugwash high school parking lot, trying to catch their breath without inhaling smoke while trying to fuel the flames under their tin can.
They were minutes away from success – not a win, but success – but they didn’t know it. Cold, wet and breathless, determination and exhaustion kept them rolling and blowing until the telltale suds overflowed their can, releasing them from what had become an epic water boil.
For these junior members of the Linden 4H club, they’d just learned a valuable lesson: Never give up. Even when you spill the can and have to start over, even when there is a crowd of people watching your every breath, you don’t stop until the task is completed.
Sitting down with the Mitchell family a few days later in their home outside Oxford, I suggested that Maggie and Dianna, who is eleven, deserve an “I survived the water boil 2017” T-shirts. Her parents laughed.
“Just getting the fire going and the water boiled was a win,” Andrew says.
Their younger daughter, 8 year old Addison, already had twisted an ankle during the back tank event. For a family in their first year of 4H, the woodsmen competition at County Rally, held every year in early April, was quite an experience. The girls, apparently, are looking forward to next year.
Dianna and Addison had asked their parents if they could join 4H after a couple of their friends started talking about it. Despite their busy schedules – both girls are into acting, figure skating, basketball and music – Julie and Andrew decided they could manage another activity if they didn’t take on too much.
“Dianna wanted to do beef but that would be four days a week,” Julie says. “Everybody I talked to said just do one project the first year and stick to non-livestock.”
Livestock may be in their future, however. Julie shows me the “Goat Savings” jar the girls started after woodsmen practice at a farm with baby goats.
According to Julie and Andrew, the biggest challenge of the first year of 4H is all the firsts: the first public speaking or demonstration event, the first county rally. Julie says her girls didn’t know what to expect but now they have more experience.
What they weren’t expecting is the camaraderie that exists in a 4H club.
“You gain a family,” says Julie. “You have the younger and the older together and they all seem to become buddies. 4H is more involved than I realized, there’s a lot of components, like other clubs.”
Andrew is pleased by the opportunities for his daughters.
“With the public speaking and demonstration, they gain skills they’ll use later in life. There’s team building and pride in the club. And there’s volunteer work in the community.”
Dianna and Addison say they’re enjoying their 4H experience and are looking forward to the Junior Tour, an overnight trip that happens every year in June.
“I started 4H because it looked really cool,” says Addison. “It was a whole other world to me.”
She reaches out and gives the Goat Savings jar a good shake.
|Dianna Mitchell and Maggie Broughton bring their water to a boil.|