Wednesday, February 15th, Delaney Rogers and her parents went to Lincoln to the capitol building to testify at the Natural Resources Committee meeting.  On Monday, Delaney heard that the powers that be are considering not rebuilding the Halsey 4H camp, and that set her into motion.  She immediately got on the agenda to speak, and began writing her speech.

She talked with the English teacher about word choice.  She talked with the history teacher about how a hearing of this kind works, and had several people edit her speech.   The two days leading up to testifying were a whirlwind of preparation.  She called senators, camp officials, 4H leaders, and many others to get her facts straight.

Delaney’s Script:

My name is Delaney Rogers. I live in Logan County and I’m a 17-year- old junior from Arnold Public Schools. I’m here to represent the younger generation who are Halsey Strong. 

Halsey national forest and the 4-H campgrounds mean the absolute world to me. I could see the fire that took it in

 the skyline from my window. The smoke was hanging in the air for what seemed like a month. It broke my heart to hear that the place where my father, myself,

and where I imagined my children to go to camp, had vanished in a puff of smoke..

I was one of the last to enjoy the camp. I was there for 10 days in a row at two different leadership camp

s in late July of 2022.  I was one of the last to walk from the cabins to the lodge, or from the lodge to the Observation deck. It was my home away from home.  That camp meant so much to me and so much to so many of my friends. For me and my friends, it was like a death. I remember dropping to the floor in tears and calling my camp friends right away. 

As soon as I picked myself up off the floor, I knew I had to help out. I went to every one of my leadership activities and we as a whole decided to sell t-shirts to hopefully raise money to help in any way possible. The back of the shirts has a quote on the back that says “Leaders aren’t born, they’re grown.” I couldn’t think of a better quote to describe the Halsey 4-h camp. Leaders are grown and have been grown for generations at the camp. We raised $563, and that may not sound like a lot, but for a group of teenagers just trying to save something they’re passionate about, it was enough just to get people invested and in the know about the rebuilding process. 

I went to 2 camps that had roughly 100 kids each. That’s almost 200 kids from around the state and parts of South Dakota that were devastated by the loss of our camp. In the summer of 2022 alone, the campgrounds housed 14 camps and approximately 300 campers. That number doesn’t include all of the leadership camps such as the two I attended. If yhe camp was built in 1959 and if 300 kids have gone since the 60s, that’s nearly 19,000 children who had the opportunity to grow in the forest. I can tell you just from the campers I’m still in touch with, that kids appreciated the unique opportunity.

This campground has affected so many kids and parents in Nebraska. Whether its from going to the actual 4-H camps. 

  • Week-long RYLA leadership camps
  • The NREA Youth energy leadership camps
  • Quiz bowl competitions
  • Art festivals
  • Proms
  • FFA activities
  • Field trips
  • 6th-grade outdoor education
  • 4th-grade camp outs
  • Faculty team building days

I could list camps and activities for days, but I was told I only have 3 or 4 minutes. The East side of the state has many places to go to learn to be a leader, but the western side had Halsey. 

If you take away anything from this testimony, I hope that it’s the fact that so many kids have benefited from the Halsey 4-H camp and campgrounds. We can not deprive our younger generations of the chance to learn and grow in the middle of a forest in the middle of the great grass desert. This camp has not only grown me as a leader and as a person, but it has grown so many of my classmates, teammates, and state-wide peers as well.

I’d like to thank everyone that’s considering rebuilding the camp and investing in Nebraska’s future generations. Thank You.  Delaney Rogers, APS Junior.

Here is a link to watch the video of her testimony.