By MUCC Policy Intern Ashley Bur
As the sound of the alarm went off at 4am, I stumbled out of bed reaching for the light. The day was here, I had been waiting weeks for this, and it was going to be my day to shine, or so I thought as I got ready for my very first ever hunt.
The previous day had been spent in preparation, purchasing licenses and steel shot ammunition, etc. But now the day had come and I had nerves from here to the moon. Last weekend was practice. Shooting clay pigeons and getting comfortable with a gun. If you can’t tell already, this is coming from someone who’s barely even shot a gun. I had no idea what to expect, but the excitement was overwhelming.
I am busily trying to get our camps filled and the kids sorted into the right program. Our camp programs are open to the public as well as our club members and our ultimate goal is to get camp filled to capacity this summer. We have a total of 400 available slots each summer and the last two years we have been running between 85% and 90% capacity. With this being my 3rd summer at the helm I am making a big push to get camp over the hump of 90% and push hard to be full every week we offer programming.
To get more information on what programs we have available and find the application to get your son, daughter, grandkid, nephew, niece, or neighbor signed up visit our webpage https://mucc.org/home/education-programs/michigan-outofdoors-youth-camp/! Our programs do fill up on a first come first served basis so if you want to get your first choice of program make sure you start the registration process soon.
On the camp staff recruiting front we are in the final month of recruiting. We have filled several key spots and will have many fresh new faces adding to our team this year. I recently returned from a recruiting trip to the U.P. where I spent a week visiting classrooms at Lake Superior State University and attending a job fair at Northern Michigan University to recruit staff for camp. However, we are still looking for a few more male and female counselors. We are also looking for a maintenance/grounds person to help take care of the facility and finally we are looking for 2 individuals who would be interested in running our ranges safely and teaching our hunter safety courses this summer.
All of these positions are paid positions! To apply or for more information on each job you can click the link: https://mucc.org/home/education-programs/michigan-outofdoors-youth-camp/youht-camp-the-staff/employment-opportunities/. You can also send me a resume at email@example.com if you are interested in a position.
With April moving along the time to act to stay ahead of the early summer registration rush, or to lock up a summer job for you or someone you know is now! So get your kids signed up and take a look at the jobs we still have available before the chance passes you by.
Last weekend, I was given the opportunity to be a part of the annual Youth Rabbit Hunt hosted by the Michigan DNR at the Crane Pond State Game Area. Guides, sponsors, mentors, and parents gave 22 eager youth a fun and enriching experience in the outdoors. For many, this was their first hunt. Programs such as this one are of critical importance for engaging today’s youth in nature and conservation. After all, they’re our future conservation leaders!
The Crane Pond Youth Rabbit Hunt participants and guides after a successful event
Not only did this event give kids a chance to safely scavenge the forest with a firearm, but it also provided a chance to learn about the role conservation and habitat restoration plays in the hunt. Thanks to the dedicated guides and mentors, they were able to see and utilize the brush piles created by DNR staff and volunteers from MUCC's On the Ground program in 2013; two lucky hunters even harvested a rabbit from the piles! What a sense of accomplishment that must have been for those kids. That day will be memorable for the youth participants and adults alike. I still remember my first hunting adventures with my Dad at a very young age.
“Daylight’s burnin’!” That was the infamous phrase my Dad would shout as he rushed us out the door; one toddler, two toddler, three toddler, four. All dressed in carharts, camo, and fluorescent orange stocking caps, we trudged clumsily in Dad’s footsteps—much like a line of ducklings trailing close behind their mom. For hours we’d walk down the seemingly endless two tracks, never missing a crunchy leaf. Much to my surprise, I saw a statue of a bull elk placed elegantly next to our path. He was looking right at us as if he was wishing us farewell while we ventured back to the truck. When we got closer the giant, beast of a statue stood up and ran away; I could not believe that statue had come to life! Another time, more mature in age but not in nature, I had the honor of holding the rattling antlers as we hiked to our hunting location. Like a responsible 10 year old, I held them to either side of my head as I giggled and waited for my Dad to notice the shadow beside him as he walked quiet and focused on his hunt. Surely, my Dad knew he would not be harvesting a single animal with us along, but he brought us anyways and I’ll never forget the memories.
The kids are all smiles with their complimentary prizes from the event sponsors
Youth are extremely impressionable and their imaginations run wild; they don’t know what’s going to jump out at them when they aren’t boxed in by four walls and a ceiling or help captive by the screen of a TV, tablet, or smartphone. While technology is an innovative tool for education, it’s equally important for kids to get outside and learn about nature through hands-on experience. That’s why programs, like the youth hunt, that get youth outdoors are essential. Aside from the exhilarating hunting experience, the kids at Crane Pond SGA’s Youth Rabbit Hunt also won some really cool outdoor gear provided by the event sponsors. Along with beaming smiles, some of the kids walked away with a generous membership to QDMA, items such as binoculars, camo hats, an oozing target, a fishing pole, or a bow complete with a quiver full of arrows. Each youth participant was also given a free membership to the National Turkey federation, and a gift bag with various outdoor gear such as a pocket knife and multi-tool! Events like this one are hosted all over the state for all hunting seasons; don’t miss out on the next opportunity!
Check out next week’s blog to see what volunteers did for rabbitat at the Fulton State Game Area!
Time to start thinking warm thoughts and one way to do that is to take a look at the programs we are offering at camp this summer. This week is the official start of registration season. Now is the time to start getting your kids signed up to join us at Cedar Lake for 2015. So moms, dads, grandparents, and club members take a look at the programs we are offering this year. For 2015 we are offering 9 camp programs. We will be working with 5-16 year olds this summer and have a lot of programs to offer.
Below you can find a brief description of each camp as well as the price and weeks the theme is offered.
Day Camp $175 Ages 5-8
Session Dates Time
|DC1||June 22rd-June 26th||9:00-4:00|
We are on an adventure to discover the outdoors for the younger campers. During this week campers will explore the world around them, and have the chance to get hands on with nature. Campers will spend time each day learning about a different area of Michigan’s ecosystem. One day they will learn about bugs and slugs, another about Michigan mammals, they will spend time swimming in the lake and even doing some nature arts and crafts. All of these activities are designed to create a connection with the environment to encourage enjoyment of the outdoors.
Conservation Connection Camp $380 Ages 9-11
Session Dates Time
|CCC1||June 21st – June 26th||Residential Overnight|
|CCC2||June 28nd – July 3rd||Residential Overnight|
|CCC4||July 19thth – July 24th||Residential Overnight|
This camp could be considered our sampler camp. It offers younger campers ages 9-11 the opportunity to learn survival, orienteering, archery, canoeing, shooting sports and fishing in a safe and positive environment. Campers will have a great week sampling a variety of hands on outdoor activities while identifying what their true outdoor interests are. Come grab a paddle, bow or rod and head out with us for a fantastic week of fun.
Fishing Camp $380 Ages 9-11
Session Dates Time
|FC1||June 21st - June 26th||Residential Overnight|
Wetland Wonders $380 Ages 9-11
Session Dates Time
|WW1||June 28th – July 3rd||Residential Overnight|
Hunting Heritage (SCI) Camp $380 Ages 12-14
Session Dates Time
|BGH1||July 12th- July 17th||Residential Overnight|
|BGH2||July 26th- July 31st||Residential Overnight|
This fun filled week long adventure gives campers an opportunity to develop their skills as big game hunters. Throughout the week, campers will work with experts in animal identification and tracking, while learning valuable hunting techniques and strategies. In addition to earning their hunter safety card, campers will be taught the importance of equipment selection, participate in archery and small bore rifles and spend time identifying their role as stewards of the land.
Primitive Skills Camp $380 Ages 12-14
Session Dates Time
|PSC1||July 12th- July 17th||Residential Overnight|
|PSC2||July 26th- July 31st||Residential Overnight|
Wise resource use is the definition of conservation and in this camp you will learn all about using a resource from start to finish. Beginning at the range, campers will practice their shooting and archery skills then head out to learn wild edibles, fishing, trapping and even wilderness survival skills.
Fur Harvesters Camp $380 Ages 11-13
Session Dates Time
|FHC||July 12th- July 17th||Residential Overnight|
Stewards In Training Camp Ages $425 Ages 13-15
Session Dates Time
|SIT1||July 12th- July 17th||Residential Overnight|
|SIT2||July 26th - July 31st||Residential Overnight|
This one week program offers campers an opportunity to develop leadership skills in an engaging natural setting. Campers will spend the week learning how to work together as they tackle challenging tasks like a high ropes course. A 15mile overnight backpacking trip designed to challenge campers both physically and mentally. Acting as stewards for camp they will work together to create and complete a project designed to improve communication skills, problem solving skills and teamwork that is essential for their role as conservation stewards.
Counselors in Training $400 Ages 15-16
Session Dates Time
|CIT1||July 26th- July 31st||Residential Overnight|
This one week program offers seasoned campers the opportunity to develop as ethical and knowledgeable Junior Counselors for the next camp season. Throughout the week, Counselors-in-Training (CITs) will refine their knowledge on camp curriculum while learning various skills, techniques, and attitudes that will benefit them the following year as Junior Counselors. This camp is designed to give participants the skills they will need to become future camp counselors. It will also focus on the importance of sharing conservation ethics with others.
Registration is now open for all of these camps and the application to sign you child up can be found at https://mucc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/2015-Camp-application-2-1-1.pdf.
Come join us for another fantastic summer down at Cedar Lake!
MUCC Field Manager
In learning about conservation, perhaps there was no better lesson for the Midland Dow High School Conservation Club than Saturday. Along with other volunteers, first they built homes for rabbits by cutting trees and stacking them into brush piles, and then they ate rabbit sliders. The only thing missing from the day was the rabbit hunting, but now the students know exactly where to go for that, too!
Saturday's On the Ground (OTG) wildlife habitat project took us back to where it all started for the program, the corner of Fowler and Marion Roads in the Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area east of Marion Springs. Fittingly, volunteers from that first project in March of 2013 returned on Saturday, too: James and Lacy Snyder, Wayne Hanson of the Saginaw Field & Stream Conservation Club, and Douglas Reeves, who is the Assistant Chief of the DNR's Wildlife Division but, like two years ago, was here as a volunteer and area rabbit hunter.
Joining them, as I mentioned earlier, were members of the Midland Dow High School Conservation Club including Bo, Kris and Ben Brueck, Nolan O'Connell, Andrew Kaiser, Michael Dill, Sean Pumford, Carter Musselman, Chad Wasco, Max Muessig and Morgan Zoeller.
Jake Bennett, District Representative for Congressman Dan Kildee (and my old friend from high school and college) volunteered as well, with Jeff and Melanie Ross from the Detroit Sportsmen's Congress, Diane Reeves, Mary Isaac, Matthew Niemiec, Cody Eaton, Seth Gibson, Shane Orchard, Teresa Phillips, Rich Phillips, Kimberly Crowe, Keith Phillips, and Peace Von Arx.
DNR Wildlife Division biologist Chad Fedawa and technician Chad Krumnauer joined Huron Pines AmeriCorps member Sarah Topp and I in organizing the project.
We cut mostly dead and leaning trees, including multiple ash afflicted with emerald ash borer, from fence rows between corn and soybean fields on the game area, then stacked the trees into brush piles within the fence rows to create "rabbitat" (rabbit habitat), which will provide them with cover and shelter from predators like hawks and coyotes close to food sources.
Multiple very large brush piles were built throughout the workday, and their spacing along the field edges close to food sources should make excellent habitat. James Snyder reported that he regularly takes rabbits out of the brush piles we built two years ago. Most of those piles have shrunk over the past couple years, though, so were were diligent to build them even bigger this time so that they last longer.
Everyone worked very hard, though, and it was much appreciated. Volunteers who worked with the Midland Dow Conservation Club students reported that they worked very hard, so their sponsor, teacher Brent Chambers, should be very proud. James Snyder's crew was also impressive, taking on a whole fence row on their own and building piles with military-like precision, as James is an Army artillery veteran. He talked with DNR biologists about building more brush piles at the Maple River State Game Area in the future.
After the workday, we all met back at the abandoned Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area Field Headquarters (it's now managed out of the Rose Lake office). The old headquarters gave volunteers a place to get out of the wind and warm with a space heater while Stephanie Rustem of Gourmet Gone Wild served rabbit sliders to the crew cooked by Chef Dan Nelson.
It was an incredible day of conservation, from building rabbitat to eating rabbits. The students learned the most important aspects of rabbit hunting without firing a shot: wildlife habitat and free-range organic food. They know too, now, where to go to kick brush piles and complete the cycle by becoming active participants in nature by hunting.
The only way it could have gone better is if I didn't get the truck stuck, but that's for another time! Thank you to everyone who volunteered, to the DNR biologists who spent their Saturday with us, to AmeriCorps member Sarah Topp for doing an excellent job, and Outdoor Life for helping us purchase the chainsaw safety equipment, and to the hunters and anglers whose license dollars fund wildlife management in our state, including the Wildlife Habitat Grants used to fund projects like these.
Oh, and for those of you keeping score for the Spartan-Wolverine Challenge, the count after this project is 25-3 Spartans! This means that 25 volunteers chose the green and white tee, versus only three for the maize and blue. You can get your own by volunteering at our next project at Fulton State Game Area on March 21, which you can sign up for here. #SpartansWill #Volunteer4Wildlife!
Even though waterfowl season has ended here in Michigan, There is still a great way to get kids involved and keep them interested this winter. The Michigan Junior Duck Stamp contest is currently taking place and entries can be submitted until March 15, 2015. The Junior Duck Stamp Program is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and it is hosted by the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. This is a fantastic opportunity to get your kids involved and have them show off their artistic talents. More information can be found in the press release below.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have held a Jr. Duck Stamp Contest in Michigan since 1995 (20 years). In 2014, Alexandra Greenfelder, age 19 of Chesaning won the Michigan contest with a watercolor painting of a Mallard Duck Pair. “Michigan’s youth does not lack talent. The Junior Duck Stamp Program is a unique venue for Michigan’s youth to present their version of North American Waterfowl” said Lionel D. Grant, Jr. Duck Stamp state coordinator.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service2014 Michigan JDS artwork was even featured at University of Michigan Health Center’s Gifts of Art Gallery in late December 2014 through February 2015.
This dynamic educational program uses principles in both conservation and design to teach wetland habitat and waterfowl biology to students in kindergarten through high school. The program provides an opportunity for students to artistically showcase their knowledge of the diversity, interrelationships and beauty of wildlife.
“The Junior Duck Stamp Contest celebrates children’s curiosity to learn about nature,” said Tom Melius, Midwest Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “By using their artistic talents, younger generations can develop an appreciation for migratory birds, waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wildlife they may otherwise not be exposed to.”
Students may submit artwork featuring one of the following species: whistling ducks, swans, geese, brant, dabbling ducks, diving ducks, sea ducks, mergansers, stiff tails, or Hawaiian ducks. A full list of permitted species is available online at http://www.fws.gov/juniorduck.
Judging will be open to the general public at Green Point Environmental Learning Center in Saginaw, at 1pm Tuesday, March 24th, 2015. Artwork entries will be judged on the basis of original design, anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for reproduction on a 1” by 1.5” stamp.
During the contest, students will be judged in four groups according to grade level: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12.Three first, three second and three third place entries, along with 16 honorable mentions will be selected from each group. Contest judges select a “Best of Show” from the twelve first place winners, which will be submitted to the Federal Duck Stamp Office and entered into the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest held in April in West Virginia. The winner of the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest, along with his/her parent or guardian and teacher will receive a free trip to a First Day of Sale ceremony in late June/early July.
The first place art from the national contest is used to create a National Junior Duck Stamp each year. The Junior Duck Stamp is available for $5 from the U.S. Postal Service and from many National Wildlife Refuges. Proceeds from the sale of the stamps support conservation education and provide awards and scholarships for participating students, teachers and schools.
A downloadable entry form and information on contest rules and regulations for teachers and supervising adults can be found online at http://www.fws.gov/juniorduck. The following guides are available to download here:
Educator’s Guide: http://www.fws.gov/juniorduck/curriculum/educatorguidefulldocument.pdf
Youth Guide: http://www.fws.gov/juniorduck/curriculum/youthguidecompletedocument.pdf
For additional information or if you have questions regarding your student’s or school’s participation in the Jr. Duck Stamp contest, please contact your Jr. Duck Stamp State Coordinator Lionel Grant, (989) 759-1669, Lionel_Grant@fws.gov. Entries and reference forms should be postmarked by March 15, 2015 and mailed to: c/o Junior Duck Stamp Coordinator Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge 6975 Mower Road Saginaw, MI 48601
by Shaun McKeon, MUCC Education Director
Its winter time in Michigan and on top of all the ice fishing and small game hunting there is another season that is in full swing. That season is banquet season. January, February, and March seem to be the prime months for clubs all around the state to hold their annual gatherings, fundraisers, and banquets. Each club has their own traditions and themes for their banquets, but good food and good company are always at the forefront
One of the bigger club banquets from around the state is going on this weekend. The annual banquet of Safari Club International- Novi Chapter will be held at the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit. “Immerse yourself in hunting and fishing and support SCI Novi at its annual fundraiser. On Friday Feb. 20, doors open at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. On the menu: Chili Bar, Tuscany Station, and Wing Station. Tickets are $35 per person for members, $40 per person for nonmembers. Free admission for individuals with a ticket for Saturday. On Saturday Feb. 21st, doors open at 3 p.m., with dinner at 6 p.m. On the menu: filet mignon and chicken. There will be a cash bar at both events. There will be silent and live auctions, gun raffles, games, and shopping spree raffles. Tickets are $80 per person for SCI Novi members and $85 for nonmembers. More information can be found on their website at http://www.scinovi.com.”
Over the years, the Novi chapter of Safari Club International has really stepped to the plate for conservation. In cooperation with George F. Riley and the Riley Foundation, it will again be sending 80 kids down to Cedar Lake for camp. In accordance with SCI-Novi’s mission to promote acceptance and understanding of hunting as a tool for wildlife conservation through education, these youth will have the opportunity to become more engaged in the world they live in.
The youth are provided a full scholarship to attend one of two sessions of camp, depending on age and interest. The Riley Jr. Camp is for boys and girls ages 9-11 and focuses on a sampling of outdoor activities, ranging from archery, and canoeing to fishing and hunter safety class. The other camp option is the Riley Advanced Camp for boys and girls age 12-14. The Riley Advanced camp focuses on our hunting heritage curriculum. This camp is focused on the skills and techniques of big game hunting as well as wildlife conservation. Youth in the advanced camp will also have the opportunity to become hunter safety certified and will spend time shooting trap during their week at camp. They will also have the opportunity to hear from successful hunters and guest speakers from around Michigan.
These scholarships are available to youth who are interested in connecting and learning more about the outdoors and all are encouraged to apply. The candidates who most qualify for the award will meet the following criteria: 1. Youth with limited outdoor experience 2. Lack of a mentor to help them learn about the outdoors 3. Not yet having earned a Michigan Hunter Safety Certificate 4. Lack of family financial resources to attend a camp like program.
Please visit http://www.scinovi.com/rwyc.html for an application
Recently, in a few of the Michigan OutofDoors campfire columns I have talked about the importance of volunteers to our organization. They are the many hands that help put in the work that get everything in place for the camp season to begin and without them our program would be in big trouble so once again thank you! However, there is another group of special people that it takes to make the program run and they are our front line staff.
Each year I hire 22 outstanding people to share their love of the outdoors with the youth of Michigan. The front line staff is a dedicated group of people ranging in age from 16 through their early retirement years. Most are college age and come from different corners of the state. This group dedicates six weeks of their summer to teach kids about hunting, fishing, trapping and what being a steward for the environment is all about.
The frontline staff is what makes our operation tick and they are the ones who have a direct impact on creating conservationists of the future. Whether it is building survival shelters in the woods, giving instructions to first time canoers, helping the campers study for hunters safety, mowing the grass and keeping the facility safe, or cooking 300 meals a day to feed hungry stomachs. The staff is what makes camp a special place for the youth.
With fond memories of the 2014 staff behind me it is now time to look ahead to the 2015 team and the recruiting cycle has begun. We are now accepting applications for positions at camp this summer. Positions and a short description for these PAID positions can be found below:
- Health Officer- 1 position open. Our health officer serves as the camp nurse. They are responsible for all medical situations and emergencies that may arise at camp. Also they are in charge of daily administration of meds to campers and staff. Part of the camp leadership team. Must be 1st aid and CPR certified during the camp season but higher qualifications such as nursing student with clinical experience, EMT or paramedic are preferred.
- Camp Counselor- 9 positions open. The counselors are responsible for the safety and well-being of campers throughout the summer. They are the instructors who will be teaching the outdoor lessons, technical skills, and providing activities for the campers to engage in. Counselors also serve as mentors to the campers and are responsible for cabin management throughout the week. Must be 1st aid and CPR certified during the camp season.
- Camp Cook- 1 position open. The cook position is responsible for cooking the daily meals for the camp. In charge of ordering supplies, maintaining inventory, and cooking food to serve roughly 1,400 meals per week.
- Kitchen Assistant- 1 position open. The Kitchen Asst. is responsible for assisting with meal prep, keeping the dining room orderly during meals, and helping to clean up after meals including, sweeping, mopping and dish washing.
- Grounds/Maintenance- 1 position open. Primary responsibilities include grounds maintenance- mowing and weed whacking, facilities up keep- cleaning bathrooms and showers daily and general maintenance and repair work as necessary during the camp season.
- Junior Counselor- (16-17 year olds) 1 male position open. This position is designed for high school students to learn the ropes of what working with youth in a camp setting requires. Junior counselors assist main counselors with all daily tasks as needed. This includes supervising youth, setting up supplies for programs, participating in campfire activities and helping with registration and kitchen duties. Must be 1st aid and CPR certified during the camp season.
Resumes can also be sent to me directly:
MUCC Shaun McKeon PO Box 30235 Lansing, MI 48909
These positions offer a special opportunity for anyone interested. You get to spend the summer outside, make an impact on the lives of youth, share your outdoor passions, and get paid to do it! The work is tough and the days are long 22 hours to be exact (for some positions), but it is extremely rewarding. Seeing the smile on a kids face after they catch their first bass or a high five from a kid who hits the archery bullseye after a week of practice makes it all worth it.
Now is the time to start thinking about what you will be doing this summer and if working with youth and getting them outdoors is something you would like to be doing this is your chance.
This week for the reach outdoors blog we are going to launch a new idea. Our idea is to hear from you! Once a month we will be posting a brag board blog and we want photos of you and your kids getting outdoors exploring and enjoying the natural resources Michigan has to offer. Whether you were a past summer camper who harvested your first deer this season after getting your hunter safety card at camp or you are a parent of a kid who loves getting outdoors we want you to share it with us.
We want to see pictures and hear stories about youth who are hunting, trapping and fishing out in the woods and waters all across this great state. The idea behind this is to create an online extension for our future stars program. So once a month, my blog will be all about your stories, and pictures of kids doing what they love to do outside. You can submit pictures and stories directly to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will do my best to get them posted online in the blog each month.
Charlie, Henry and Grandpa
To kick off the blog we will share a story and a picture of the Tonne brothers and their Grandpa spending time together fishing:
Dzidra (Grandma Memi) writes this about her grandkids, “Brothers, four year old Charlie and two and a half year old Henry walk the quarter mile of dirt road to a little creek near Interlochen carrying their own poles. The calm pool in the creek holds a few small bass and bluegill, enough to keep the boys excited. At their age we “keep it simple,” with a light weight rod, bobber, hook, and worm. With a little help casting and reeling and a lot of praise for a caught fish. A job well done is shared before the catch is released.” The boys get to enjoy fishing and the short walk through nature as they get to share these trips with their grandparents.”
Before I was MUCC Ed. director, I was catching fish with the family!
The other picture in this article is of my family and I about 7 years ago. This picture was taken during a quick break from college joining my parents and younger brother for a day chasing salmon on Lake Michigan. It represents a great day fishing with the family and is a small piece of how lucky I was growing up to be able to share family time in Michigan’s great outdoors.
These types of brief stories about your outings with a photo or two are exactly what we will be looking for. We want to see and share photos of your kids getting outside! Once again you can send the photos to email@example.com and I will post them on a monthly basis.
While we are talking about getting kids outdoors, we are almost ready to start taking applications for the 2015 camp season. More information on the programs that we will be offering this year can be found at mucc.org/camp. Also pictures of many of the activities the campers participate in can be viewed there. With over 350 kids attending camp each summer there are lots of chances to take pictures of kids getting outdoors and learning about conservation in Michigan.
Disclaimer: By sending in a photo or story you are consenting to allow for that picture to be shared on our website mucc.org. You are consenting the right and permission to use pictures of the minor or pictures in which the minor may be included in conjunction with mucc.org or the Michigan OutofDoors Magazine.
After reading an article by my Co-worker Tony Hansen in Outdoor Life Magazine, on a trapping program that is taking place in Wisconsin and the fantastic work they are doing with youth (see article here). I decided to highlight the fur harvesting program we run at camp.
The furbearer program is one of our newer camps and has been taking place for the last three summers. It has grown over the years and was our largest program during the week it was offered last summer. During the 2nd year (my first season) there were 10 kids registered for the program and during the 2014 season we had 18 participants.
As with all of our themes at camp the program is designed to get kids out and learning the ropes. Last year they worked closely with Michigan Trapper and Predator Callers President Dale Hendershot. Dale had the kids out in the field each day learning about the different types of traps, sets, and techniques. Two years ago under the guidance of Dale and John Caretti the kids were able to skin a beaver and several raccoons. They went through the drying process and throughout the week played a part in working the pelts. In 2014, muskrat was the popular animal and the youth skinned them with supervision from Dale. On top of becoming familiar with the traps and what happens after you catch an animal, the youth also are able to learn special tips that Dale has picked up over the years. One of the popular tips was, “raccoons love marshmallows and they work good as bait in certain situations.” The campers joked they hoped they would catch a counselor using marshmallows as bait.
On top of their field time the participants spend time learning and studying the material to pass the Michigan trappers exam. By taking part in this program at camp the participants are able to become certified trappers in the state of Michigan, as well as their Michigan hunter safety card.
For all of our campers over the last two years this program was something brand new to them. None of the campers had previous experience trapping. It is great to see the sport of trapping beginning to increase in participation numbers and we believe that programs like the one running at camp are the starting point to keep this trend heading up.
In the past we ran this program for our 9-11 year old age groups really focusing on introducing the younger campers to trapping. This year we decided to make a change and offer the theme to an older age of campers ranging from 12-14 in the hopes of the older campers being more able to continue trapping once they leave camp.
Campers who participate in this program come away with an increased knowledge about all of the hard work that goes into running a trap line, but they are often inspired by how rewarding the sport can be and the kids smiles show the feeling of success they get when one of their traps works.
For the 2015 camp season our furharvesters camp will be running July 12th-17th. If you know a youngster between 12-14 years old who wants to get into the sport of trapping you can check out our camp page for more details. Mucc.org/camp