When one of my children started 4-H, he had trouble talking to people. He was so incredibly shy that he struggled through common appointments like the doctor's office, dentist and getting his hair cut. He refused to let people take his picture, and he didn't handle large groups well when loud or unexpected noises were involved. Meanwhile, we started attending the meetings of a seasoned club which was accustomed to planning a night every year where the local high school science teacher put on a PHENOMENAL hour-long spectacle of entertaining (and obviously educational) science experiments. It was no surprise when my son decided in the first year to leave the room every time a loud explosion was anticipated. The SECOND year, however, the group received instruction on how to turn a test tube into a Christmas ornament by combining Silver Nitrate and Sodium Hydroxide. The littlest kids were paired with the biggest, and they worked together. That Christmas my 17 year old nephew gave his dad a coke bottle he had done the same thing to during their science class as a present. Both my boys literally BEAMED as they told him they had done the same thing in 4-H (and my nephew was completely shocked). In their faces, I sincerely witnessed their confidence grow. Year three (age 7), and science night, once again desired on the schedule by the club members, occurred in part because my child VOLUNTEERED to make the call to the science teacher to invite him to participate, and that night he ended up in the front of the room helping with an experiment. 4-H has demonstrated to my children that their future has no limits.
In their faces, I sincerely witnessed their confidence grow.