The 4-H Shooting Sports program brings archery to young people at the Delaware Burn Camp.

On target

4-H Shooting Sports teaches archery to campers, Special Olympians

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1:08 p.m., Oct. 9, 2012--When Jim Kemble brought his 4-H Shooting Sports archery expertise to the Delaware Burn Camp, he didn’t know what to expect. Now, after completing his fourth year with the program, he knows that it has been nothing short of a bull’s-eye. 

Kemble comes in for two days every year and takes the campers through the steps of archery, teaching them safety and how to shoot properly. Kemble noted that he has a great group of 4-H archery certified volunteers that helps out with many of the 4-H Shooting Sports outreach activities, and he stressed that sharing archery skills does more than show the campers how to shoot straight.

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“Our whole program is geared toward developing life skills,” said Kemble, associate scientist in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and a research associate at the Agriculture Experiment Center. Kemble said that the confidence the campers gain through the program is more important to him than teaching them to hit a target. 

“One of the main essences of our program is to take and instill confidence and have the individual walk away from the program feeling that they’ve accomplished something and feel good about themselves and about what they’ve done.” 

The campers begin by shooting at targets, but eventually move up to shooting balloons, which Kemble said is great because they can see instant results when they pop a balloon with an arrow. 

Another highlight of the week is when the campers get to turn the tables, with Kemble allowing them to teach their counselors how to shoot properly. “That’s so rewarding for the campers to see that they’re actually teaching somebody to do that. It’s a real feel good feeling for them; it’s an accomplishment,” said Kemble.

Kemble also said he has noticed that every year he comes back, some of the campers’ archery skills have improved immensely. He shared a story about one girl in particular: “She started punching the bull’s-eye out right away on the targets and I looked at her and said, ‘Have you been practicing?’ She said ‘Yes, I practiced.’ Then I came back to her later and said, ‘Do you have your own equipment?’ She said yes. I asked, ‘Where did you get your interest and your start with archery?’ And she said, ‘Here at Burn Camp.’” 

Joanne Hutchison, president of the Delaware Burn Camp and a nurse at Bayhealth Medical Center, said that the archery program has been a highlight at the camp since its inception. “One of the first things they look for when they come into camp is, are they going to have archery,” said Hutchison. “They love it, absolutely love it, and they get a big charge out of seeing that they improve.”

Hutchison also said that Kemble has been a great help with the campers, noting he is “phenomenal with the kids.” 

She said the archery program stresses safety to the campers and believes that this teaches them “to be more self-controlled and to manage themselves a little more effectively.” 

Taking place at Camp Barnes in Sussex County, the Delaware Burn Camp -- which assists young burn victims in adjusting to their injuries -- had six campers the first year and 14 campers this year. Hutchison said the camp is expanding steadily, serving children in the area of Delaware, southern Pennsylvania and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. 

Special Olympics

Kemble has also taken his 4-H Shooting Sports to Special Olympics Camp for the past half dozen years, and there he is greeted with similar enthusiasm from the participants. 

“Mr. Kemble's archery program at our summer camp the past few summers has been one of the highlights for our athletes and volunteer counselors,” said Gary Cimaglia, senior director of sports for Special Olympics Delaware. “It has given them the opportunity to try an activity they otherwise would never experience. Thanks to Mr. Kemble, our campers return home talking about 'shooting arrows' and hitting 'bull’s-eyes.'” 

Kemble said that the main difference between the two camps is the number of campers he has to instruct. He said that at their first archery session in July, Special Olympics had 60 campers. “We started at 9 o’clock in the morning and we went through until 4:30 in the afternoon. Every hour on the hour, we received a group coming in and it was always 10-12 in a group,” said Kemble. 

That paled in comparison to the second session, when they had 112 campers come out. “We had eight sessions throughout the day, every hour on the hour,” said Kemble. 

Cimaglia said that the hours have paid off, as the campers’ relish the opportunity to participate in the archery program. “The addition of his archery program has helped take the activities we offer to a whole new level,” said Cimaglia. “We are very grateful he is willing to share his expertise and make an impact on our athletes that can't be measured in terms of the number of targets hit.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos courtesy of Delaware Burn Camp

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