SALISBURY — Sewing and textiles have a long history in North Carolina, and that invaluable tradition shows no signs of slowing down here in Rowan County.
The NC Cooperative Extension held its Stitchin’ Time Youth Camp June 20-24 as part of the local 4-H program and interest was so high that both camps filled up almost immediately.
Laura Allen, an Extension Officer who handles 4-H youth development, said it was already one of their most popular summer camps and noted how many youth and of parents have come to appreciate the art of sewing over the past few years.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began shutting down public places in the spring of 2020, the local co-op got to work finding ways to keep local youth busy and active.
One of the ideas they pursued was providing sewing kits to Rowan County residents and posting instructional videos on how to use them online.
The activity has not only connected children to a lost practice that many have forgotten or never learned across the country in recent years, but it has also given countless young people something new (and safe) to do during the pandemic.
Allen noted that comments from surprised parents revealed that children participating in the remote activity were suddenly able to sew holes in their clothes, complete creative sewing projects and more.
The response was so overwhelming that the co-op made it a 4-H summer camp this year, with sessions offered for 5-8 year olds Monday through Wednesday and additional sessions scheduled for 9-18 year olds for the rest. of the week.
In the classes, participants worked with local volunteers familiar with the rich history of sewing in the area, from the major presence of the textile industry for Rowan County in the past to the barnyard quilts that adorn many farm gates in the area.
The camp was primarily aimed at giving young people a chance to learn this valuable skill so that they could also use it for their own purposes in the future.
At Friday’s camp, attendees and volunteers were putting the finishing touches on the designs they had been working on and Allen expressed optimism that sewing events like this will be held in the future.
“We received a Robertson grant (from the Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation in Salisbury) which helped fund the program and we plan to do summer sewing camps again next year, and maybe others in the spring as well.”
“It’s important that we work to teach new generations how to sew and with this camp we can help do that for today’s young people.”
The enthusiasm expressed by campers of all ages was captured in their faces and the bonds between participants and volunteers served as a reminder of the connective tissue this experience has on Rowan County as a community.
For information on future events hosted by the Rowan County Cooperative Extension or its 4-H programs, visit the website at https://Rowan.CES.NCSU.edu/.