Heather Gottke
Heather Gottke
VAN WERT – For Van Wert County 4-H Extension director Heather Gottke, Saturday’s second annual Craft and Vendor Show means more than raising money for the 4-H treasury. It’s much deeper than that.

“This means helping 4-H counselors of Van Wert county to be able to go to 4-H Camp and reach out to the kids that will be there,” said Gottke. “I get just a little emotional when I think of the opportunity for staff and 4-Hers to go to camp. We do everything we can do to make sure that everyone can go.”

Currently there are 37 vendors bringing hand-made crafts and popular products to the Junior Fair Building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. In addition, an Easter bunny will be there to greet the children, complete with a backdrop for family pictures. Proceeds support 4-H camp counselors.

The combined total cost for 4-H Camp for those from this area is $23,000, with an individual cost of $170 per camper. While the craft show helps offset some of the cost for camp, Gottke stressed that the Van Wert County Foundation provides grant money for the camp. In addition, other sources of income comes from local businesses and local supporters.

A second fund-raiser for camp is held through a Christmas Bazaar in December, Gottke said.

This year’s camp is held at Camp Palmer near Fayette and Harrison Lake.

“Most kids that are volunteers range in age from 15-18. They do 24 hours of training to go as camp counselors. Campers range in age from 8-years-old to 15-years-old. This year’s camp will be held July 5-9,” said Gottke.

This year, Gottke anticipates an attendance of 100 campers and 30 trained counselors. Activities throughout the week include canoeing, crafts, wall climbing, swimming, line dancing, nature center, zip line, lots of nature-based instruction and managed shooting sports such as archery and rifle.

“We take a nurse with us,” said Gottke, who is personally an EMT. “If there are any emotional or personal needs that come up, they are referred to me.”

“I will address or seek help for any serious needs that come up,” continued Gottke. “If there are special needs that make it difficult for 4-Hers to go to camp, we will do everything we can to get them there. It’s important to me that every child gets to camp.”

In addition to the craft show, also this weekend there will be a 4-H Awards Banquet held at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday evening at the Extension Building.