Remember the days of summer in our youth, full of outdoor adventures and discovery — running through fields and climbing hills, riding bikes, catching a pick-up game of ball or playing tag in the park, then returning home exhausted, hungry and full of stories about the day.

Newt McCarty 2016

Newt McCarty

Valencia County Extension agricultural agent

I have to wonder, with the amount of time being consumed by television, computers, gaming and social media, do those days still exist? As connected as we are as a society, we have become disconnected to so much more.

Here in Valencia County, youth have two opportunities to disconnect and reconnect. NMSU Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service is providing two youth camps this summer, Outdoors Adventures and Food Camp for Kids.

Outdoors Adventures Youth Camp is three days of exploration and discovery right here in Valencia County. Youth will disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature and the outdoors by exploring the bosque and Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area, learning about wildlife, bugs, plant life and the ever important Rio Grande.

Youth will discover the history, heritage and life-sustaining importance of the river we are so fortunate to have running through our community. Youth will also climb and explore Tomé Hill, discover how it came to be in our majestic valley, the historical importance to our community and what plants and animals live there.

Outdoors Adventures, for ages 10-14, will be held from 8:30-11 a.m., June 17, 19 and 21.

With Food Camp for Kids, children will discover the source of our food from farm to plate. We are very fortunate to live in such a great agricultural community, yet there still exists a disconnect from where our food comes and what it takes to get it from the field to the markets or stores and finally our plates.

Food Camp for Kids is focused on helping our youth discover the benefits of agriculture and reconnecting to our sources of our food.

Imagine six days of discovery through field trips to farms and dairies, talking with farmers and ranchers, the very ones growing or raising our food. Think about the opportunity to pick fresh fruits and vegetables, not from a grocery store, but from the field where they grow.

Imagine choosing recipes to prepare, making grocery lists, going shopping and cooking meals utilizing the agricultural products you’ve just seen growing in a field. And if that’s not enough, how about learning to set a table, meal time etiquette, food and kitchen safety, how to read a recipe and how to measure ingredients? These essential life skills will be part of child’s memory and practice for years and years to come.

Camp concludes with a final presentation to family and friends about their camp experience from videos, photos, and journal entries campers recorded throughout their experience. Food Camp for Kids, for children ages 9-14, runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., July 8-13 or July 22-27.

Adults don’t despair; there are plenty of opportunities to reconnect with the source of your food.

Here in Valencia County, we have three growers markets — Bosque Farms, Los Lunas and Belen — filled with local farmers who would love to give you the opportunity to take some fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables home and visit with you about how and why they grow food for their community.

Wanting to learn how to cook or even sharpen your current cooking skills? Attend any of the up-coming adult cooking classes offered throughout the year at the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Office.

Program announcements

To sign up for a program call 565-3002.

If you are an individual with a disability who is in need of auxiliary aid or service to participate in a program, please contact the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service office at 565-3002 two weeks in advance of event.

• Gardening Survival Series, Yard and Garden Irrigation: 10-11:30 a.m., Saturday, May 18, at the Bosque Farms Public Library, 1455 W. Bosque Loop. For information, call 565-3002.

• Outdoor Specialty Cooking Class: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Thursday, May 23. The location will be provided upon registration. The cost is $10.

• New Mexico Hemp Conference: May 23 and 24, at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces. Contact Jeff Anderson at 575-525-6649.

• Healthy Breakfasts/Brunch Class: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Tuesday, June 11, at Peralta Methodist Church Community Education Building, 25 Wesley Road, Peralta. The cost is $10.

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