Let’s talk about Halloween and Christmas and summer camp. What?! You may be thinking “I can’t even plan what’s happening next week, how can I think about that?!”

I know, I understand that everything is topsy turvy as our plans shift under the burden of coronavirus. But, let’s celebrate the cyclical nature of the year as we begin to think of fall and winter traditions. Let’s also lean into the positive prospect of children playing and learning outside together next summer at 4-H camp.

So, working backwards ... think about next summer. Let’s hope we can be back together in person and we know that more than ever, children are going to want great face-to-face experiences.

We are recruiting youth ages 8-14 for 4-H summer camp for the summer of 2021 right now. We will head to Betsy-Jeff Penn 4-H Camp in Reidsville for one week of making new friends, canoeing in the lake, horseback riding, swimming, arts and crafts, a high ropes course and camp songs.

The cost is $450 for the week. Contact me if you’d like to discuss sending your child or grandchild to camp.

A summer camp experience is not cheap, and we work hard to make camp possible for anyone who wants to attend. And so we ask for your help to send kids to camp by participating in our annual 4-H fundraiser.

Make plans now to purchase a locally grown Christmas tree, wreath or kissing ball. I think our holiday celebrations may bring more meaning than ever this year, and live greenery in your home will help add to the festivities. Go to the Jackson County Cooperative Extension website, www.jackson.ces.ncsu.edu, click on Jackson County 4-H, and order yours today. Pickup day will be Dec. 1.

Now let’s talk pumpkins. Last May we sent out 1,300 packets of squash and pumpkin seeds with the food bags that were delivered to families through the school nutrition program. By now any of those pumpkin seeds that were planted should be bearing fruit.

Or, maybe you grew some pumpkins on your own. 4-H, along with Bryson’s Farm Supply, is sponsoring a contest for pumpkins youth have grown, and pumpkins youth have carved.

Take a couple of photos of your pumpkins and then register and upload the photos. Do you have the heaviest? The smallest? Can you carve or decorate a terrific jack-o-lantern? Go to our website at www.jackson.ces.ncsu.edu, find the Pumpkin Contest flyer and form for registering.

As we all work through the “new normal” it’s important to hold on to traditions and make plans for things to look forward to. Contact me with questions, about the activities in this article, or about 4-H in general at heather_gordon@ncsu.edu or 586-4009.

Heather Gordon is Jackson County extension agent, 4-H Youth Development.