4-H'ers clean up cabin, get caught in tornado

Saturday, July 21, 2012
The Meadow Busy Bees worked at the Iowa 4-H camp in Madrid, Iowa, cleaning up one of their cabins. The 21 girls, with their leaders, spent their time repainting rooms and furniture, all as a community service project.

In April, the 21 members of the Meadow Busy Bees 4-H group gathered in a van and drove two hours to Madrid, where they spent the weekend cleaning up one of the cabins at the Iowa 4-H camp. Leader Julie Schwarck thought of the idea and, combined with fellow leaders Lisa Elliott and Kristin Schwenneker, helped raise money and organize the project.

Schwarck originally noticed the cabin project from a 4-H center newsletter, as other 4-H groups had worked on cabins at the camp.

"This is the first time for a project like this, but we try to do a community service project each year," Elliott said.

This project, however, took even more planning than others had in the past. They received a $1,000 Reach Out Iowa grant, and used the money to transport the girls to Madrid, as well as to buy all the supplies they needed.

To help them, the Bees enlisted the help of Sandy Carlson, an interior designer working with Steffen Furniture. Carlson helped the girls decide on a color scheme -- brown, turquoise, and lime green to make the space gender-neutral -- and helped them pick out fabric for the accents.

Once at the camp, the girls began to clean the rooms and repaint the bed frames and the bathroom. They also made Venetian blinds and a shower curtain from their fabric choices.

Their intention was to spend the entire weekend there, and to finish the project in one trip. But shortly into their work, they had to pack up and head back home. A tornado was headed in their direction. A group of the girls returned a few weeks later to finish the cabin, but their storm experience has also sparked the attention of the campground.

"The campground now is raising money for tornado shelters," Elliott said.

Elliott's daughter, Emily, a recent graduate, has been in 4-H for the past nine years. In addition to the community service projects, Emily shows sheep at the fair.

"I really enjoy the people," Emily said. "It's been a great experience."

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