CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. — An autumn weekend in September found 4-H youth, volunteers, and educators from across New York State working together to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. The event was held at 4-H Camp Bristol Hills just outside of Canandaigua, New York.
Youth learned a variety of skills that would help save them when zombies invaded. They participated in team building activities that would help them work together to ensure survival. Teen leaders Casey and Nick, from Orange County, led the youth through those experiences.
The youth participated in workshops on a variety of topics. These workshops were all related to developing outdoor adventure skills which would come in handy when the zombies caused destruction.
The very popular Fishing Workshop was led by Wayne County 4-H Volunteer, Jonathan Coyle, and 4-H Volunteer, Nolan Moore, and gave youth a chance to learn to cast, fish in the camp pond, and identify fish. Learning to fish like a survivalist is a fantastic way to obtain food during the trying times of the apocalypse.
The Forest Tools and Travel Tricks for Beating the Zombies Workshop was led by 4-H Educator, Andrew Randazzo of Columbia-Greene Counties. Youth learned how to use compasses and measuring sticks to navigate away from danger. They also discovered what the forest has to offer that might save you when the going gets tough.
When zombies infiltrate an area, youth need to be able to get out fast. The youth learned how to accomplish this in the Preparedness Workshop. Melissa Watkins, 4-H Educator in Tioga County, shared her experiences on this topic and youth were challenged to fit as much as they could in a backpack and still be able to carry it.
The Science of Fire Workshop was a big hit. Fire is essential for life after the zombies for cooking, warmth, and protection. Charles Malone, NYS 4-H STEM Educator, facilitated this workshop where youth scavenged for pinecones, pine needles, and sticks to fuel fires.
Seneca County Master Gardener, Don Cobb, shared his knowledge of the 4-H Wild Edibles project. When food is scarce and you need to survive, foraging skills will be essential. 4-H members learned how to identify helpful plants and prepare them as food. White Pine Tea and Chicory Root Coffee were enjoyed by all participants as well as greens.
Toby Mansfield and Kim Mansfield traveled from Niagara County to share their knowledge of Zombie Insects. They taught youth about the use of insects in zombie defense and detection. They also collected insects and learned how to pin butterflies for 4-H entomology collections. You might see one at a county fair near you next summer!
Because food storage and cooking would be challenging during a zombie invasion, all campers tried their hand at Outdoor Cooking. They had a chance to cook over an open fire, use a Dutch oven, and experiment with pie irons. Livingston County 4-H Educator, Renee Hopkins, and Wayne County 4-H Volunteer, Marie Coyle, helped youth discover a variety of foods that can be prepared over an open fire.
The weekend concluded with a Team Challenge. Each team visited a station to share the skills they had learned over the weekend. After successful completion of their challenges, the teams had to work together to get all team members across a river to safety.
Youth seemed to thoroughly enjoy their experience at the action packed weekend. They reported having fun, learning to fish better, and how to read a compass. One youth said, “I learned that you need to communicate before carrying out a plan.” Another participant shared, “I learned that teamwork is a lot.”
Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, an Outdoor Adventure Weekend, was an activity of the Youth in Nature and Outdoor Education Program Work Team. The Program Work Team is a group of Cornell University faculty and staff, extension educators, and external stakeholders who collaborate to identify issues, study needs, and create educational materials. Program Work Team members design learning experiences that address issues and needs. The Zombie Weekend was co-chaired by Renee Hopkins, 4-H Educator, Livingston County, and Susan Coyle, 4-H Educator, Monroe County, to help kids develop outdoor living skills and enjoy spending time in nature.
4-H is a part of Cornell Cooperative Extension and open to youth ages 5 to 18. Contact the Cornell Cooperative Extension Office in your county to inquire about 4-H experiences available in your area.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension
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