Knowledge is Power!

by MUCC Education Coordinator, Shaun McKeonSDC15164 (1)
Creating future conservationists and lifelong users of the outdoors is one of the goals of the Michigan OutofDoors Youth camp.  Here at MUCC we believe the best way to implement these goals is by teaching our campers to be stewards of the land and give the knowledge they will need to gain skills in outdoor recreational pursuits such as hunting, fishing and trapping. As the saying goes knowledge is power!
While we are down at camp we focus heavily on increasing the technical knowledge of our campers.  Our main emphasis is exposing kids to the outdoors who haven’t had the chance to spend much time in an outdoor environment.  It is also to work with campers who may be seasoned outdoors kids but are looking to continue to build their capabilities by adding new tools to their tool boxes.
Technical skills like: different strokes that are required to successfully maneuver canoes and kayaks through lily pad infested inland lakes, the proper techniques for hitting a bulls-eye on the .22 range using iron sights, how to set a trap to catch a raccoon, when the proper time to call a turkey might be, or how to tie a fisherman’s knot while getting ready to bait a hook.  These are all skills that each camper has the opportunity to learn about by getting hands on during their time at camp.
SDC15178 (1)We also provide the opportunity for some book learning and the campers to gain state recognized certifications that will help them as they continue to grow as conservationists.  The two main programs we conduct that have certifications attached to them are the Michigan Hunter Safety Course and the Michigan Trapper Certification.  Both of these courses are recognized by the Michigan DNR and are essential in imparting knowledge for anyone interested in getting into the sports of hunting or trapping.
Our hunter safety program this year was a great success.  This year under the instruction of Range Officers Buck Niles and Art Joslin we had a fantastic success rate.  173 of 179 youth passed the test giving the 2014 campers a pass rate of 96%.  Something important to note about the results, our kids didn’t just squeak by passing the test by the skin of their teeth.  They rocked the test with an average score for the summer of 93% if this was school that would be a solid A!  This certification is good for their entire lives and is the gateway ticket to purchasing a hunting license in Michigan.
Our trapper education course was attended during the 2nd week of camp by 14 campers and 4 counselors.  We had a 100% success rate in passing their test. The course was instructed by expert trapper Dale Hendershot.  The course covered the importance of being an ethical trapSDC15008per as well as several different techniques for setting traps and skinning animals.  Aside from taking home a 5 gallon bucket filled with new traps and equipment, and spending a week setting traps, the kids also got to participate in the skinning of muskrats and for many of them it was the highlight of their week.
By mixing field experiences with classroom and book learning, we are providing the tools for these future conservationists to be able to do the sports they are falling in love with.  Empowering them with knowledge is not only a great opportunity for them but it is also a great deal of fun for us.
The fun doesn’t stop at camp; here at MUCC we will keep spreading the knowledge to youth around the state throughout the year.  Keep an eye out for me at a local youth day or outreach event near you or next time you are headed out onto the water or into the woods take a kid with you.

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