Imagine yourself walking down a forest path and coming across a fawn staring at you; being able to “survive” on your own with only what you have in your backpack; identifying and tracking a variety of animals using their tracks; or sitting by a campfire you started without a match, making s’mores and listening to the calls of owls. The sky is the limit and adventures are waiting for you!

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Exploring 4-H

Exploring 4-H Outdoor Adventures
Spark Activity: Heading in the Right Direction

You can be sure you are heading in the right direction by learning the shadow stick method of establishing your bearings. Here’s how:
On a sunny day, find a flat area of ground and drive a straight stick about 3 feet long vertically into the ground so it will cast a shadow. With a small stick or rock, mark the end of this shadow. Wait 15 minutes for the shadow to move and mark the end of the shadow again. Repeat a third time. Connecting these three markers with a string or another stick will give you some important information. The first marker is west, the third marker is east. Lay a stick or string 90 degrees to this line and with the west marker on your left – you’re facing in a northerly direction!

4-H Project Levels and Goals
  • Learn about hiking gear and packing
  • Practice layering clothes for comfort
  • Establish your outdoor ethics of “Leave No Trace”
  • Plan and go tent camping 
  • Know your tools and knots 
  • Practice campfire cooking 
  • Learn to make a wilderness first aid kit
  • Plan a three-night hiking/camping adventure
  • Learn to read topographical maps and use a compass
  • Take a group new to the outdoors on a camp out
  • Pack out garbage that wasn’t yours
Put Your Project Into Action

 Show Your Skills

  • Poster with maps and pictures
  • Backpack with items taken on trip
  • Video of campsite cooking

Service and Leadership

  • Work with your local 4-H clubs to help them create and plan an outdoor adventure
  • Create a CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) geocaching event:
  • Organize and implement a river, park, or natural area cleanup
  • Take photos or videos of natural areas and display them in local libraries, nursing homes, or schools
  • Become a Teen Teacher and work with younger kids and teach them basic outdoor and leadership skills
  • Display appropriate Leave No Trace behavior while outdoors
  • Become a camp counselor or lifeguard, or mentor a younger 4-Her teaching an outdoor skill


  • Think of an item that would be helpful to have in the outdoors. Can you make it and sell it? How about fire starters or scavenger hunts?
  • Create adventures and act as a guide for younger youth

Technology Connection

  • Google Earth
  • Use GPS to navigate on your hike or find geocaches throughout the world
  • Create photos, videos, or a journal or blog of your adventures and share with the world


  • 4-H Memorial Summer Camp
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources events
  • Local forest preserve events
girls in the woods with map
  • Conservation
  • Wildlife Outdoor Education
  • Forest Ranger
Start a Conversation

If you could go on three adventures in your lifetime, what would you do and where would you go?
To learn specific bird calls, do you think it would be helpful to close your eyes as you listen?


University of Illinois Extension staff that contributed to this resource include Shannon Range and Curt Sinclair

4-H Spark Sheets are a collaborative effort of 4-H staff, volunteers, alumni and teens from across Illinois. A big thanks to the many contributors and reviewers!