Break the Ice: A Blustery Day of Team Building, Connection, and Learning at the 4-H T(w)een Retreat

4-Hers Ice Fishing

On February 12th nearly sixty tweens and teens arrived at Camp Cody in Freedom, NH for a day of leadership development.  With clear skies and a landscape that had just experienced a New Hampshire winter warm streak, the theme of the day “Break the Ice” was aptly named as our tweens and teens slipped and slid into activities centered around belonging and connection. 

The New Hampshire State Youth Leadership Team (SYLT) looks forward to this day each year, since it is a capstone project of their leadership.  Our team of five SYLT members had developed the theme, goals of the day, and each workshop specifically for the group of teens joining them that Saturday.  Tapping into their own experiences, some teen facilitators brought activities that they had participated in at this year’s National Congress, namely the team building activities and making and exchanging pins.  For those of you that are alum 4-Hers that went on a national trip, exchanging pins that are meaningful to who you are and where you come from is a 4-H tradition. We brought it local, and it was amazing to see the creativity, thought, and then the exchange with new friends.

The 4-Hers that joined us also had the opportunity to spend the afternoon in a workshop that encouraged a hands-on learning experience.  The choices were snowshoeing, ice fishing or building giant trebuchets.  Two of these groups made it out to the lake, the snowshoers to trek along the edge of the lake and the ice fishers to learn the basics of ice fishing with their personally made ice jig.  The ice fishers had the option to use a hand auger to make their hole in the ice and many loved cranking into Lake Winnipesaukee.  I will say, as someone that visited this workshop, I was thinking “Don’t Break the Ice” would have been a better theme, but there was 16 inches of ice, so our 4-Hers were safe, happy, wet, and fishless at the end.  Our third group worked hard to build, through trial, error, and wonderful teamwork, three giant trebuchets.  All were successful in throwing tennis balls, and we are planning on making sure we have a giant snowball fight next time! 

The grilled cheese was delicious, warm, and gooey and the friendships created even warmer.  The entire day was filled with joy and connections.  We closed with a shout out circle where our tweens and teens shouted out a new friend, the SYLT, the grilled cheese chef, and 4-H for allowing them the opportunity to get together and have fun while becoming a better leader. The SYLT and I are already looking forward to next winter’s experience!


Kristen Landau
State 4-H Teen Leadership Program Manager
Asst Field Specialist
Phone: 617-875-3125
Office: UNH Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824