4-H and Youth

Matthew Schmuck Matthew Schmück

WVU Extension Specialist –
4-H Camping Specialist

West Virginia University Extension Service’s Matthew Schmück has experienced his fair share of camping, rock climbing, caving and canoeing, but says his newest adventure as a camping specialist is his most exciting yet.

“Camping offers youth an experience like no other,” he says. “The type of learning and social development that occurs at camp guides young people to set and achieve goals.”

Schmück is passionate about the outdoors, adventure sports and teaching campers the importance of leadership, healthy living and reaching their full potential.

Based out of WVU Jackson’s Mill, he is more than a camper or counselor; he’s instructing West Virginia’s young people by way of fun-filled, engaging and educational activities at 4-H camp.

As a mentor, one of his most important goals is to teach campers how to be more active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. His experiences range from physical education and adventure sports to gymnastics and scuba diving—which allow him to invent new, dynamic activities for campers.

Council Circle, campfire conversations and bonding are some of the most memorable parts of camping, says Schmück. He believes that 4-H camp programs can help youths connect with others who share their interests while learning and taking part in new things.

“A constructive camp experience is proven to have a significant, positive impact on youth development; it’s my job to ensure that youth are continuously challenged and have a great, adventurous learning experience in a safe and supportive environment.”

Schmück recognizes that the foundation of the 4-H program—head, heart, hands, health—are remarkable cornerstones in teaching youth about themselves, as well as others who are part of their community.

“As the Camping Specialist, I support the strong traditions of 4-H while understanding the need to create new activities that help provide campers with an incredible 4-H camping adventure.”

Schmück’s diverse work experience allows him to bring a well-rounded approach to the position. From higher education teaching and program development, to recreation leadership positions that focus on the outdoors like rock climbing, camping and white water rafting, his resume showcases his passion for tradition and outdoor adventure.

He sees the opportunities that arise from the combination of the outdoors and being in a group environment, like those associated with 4-H camp in West Virginia.

“Campers can grow tremendously while sharing a camping or hiking experience,” Schmück remarks. “I have witnessed immense social development within groups as they rely on one another on the trail while building shelters, gathering wood for the fire and preparing a meal for the group.”

His experience with outdoor education recreation and development has led to collaboration with city planners, public school systems, universities and other initiatives, such as the West Virginia Rural Recreation Program.

Some of his previous educational instruction background involves healthful living, physical education, camp administration and group leadership courses.

“My overall goal as a leader, mentor and teacher is to motivate youth to take ownership of their lives and inspire them to achieve more than they ever thought possible,” he says.

Schmück will soon graduate from WVU with a Ph.D. in forestry resource science with an emphasis in adventure programming and experiential education.

He earned a master’s degree in recreation parks and tourism resources from WVU, a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health from Fairmont State University and an associate degree in adventure sports from Garrett College in Maryland

To reach Schmück, e-mail matthew.schmuck@mail.wvu.edu or call 304-406-7014.