By Lars Dalseide | May 31 2013 11:43

Youth Take Aim at Camp Shooting Opportunities - Fun, Mentorship and Outdoor Traditions

NRA Adventure Camp activities at the Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico

Kevin Reese, an outdoor writer out of Texas and a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), sent us the following on youth shooting camps.
Who could forget Allan Sherman’s masterpiece Hello Mother, Hello Father (A Letter from Camp), the satirical look at life at Camp Granada! Face it, the food is typically choke-worthy and at least a few walk away with poison ivy, yet for those who attend, youth camps are as much a fabric of our culture as hunting shooting. So, what could be better than instilling ethical, responsible hunting and shooting in your youth with a rustic campground as your backdrop?

Shooting activities were a hallmark of many youth camps throughout the 20th century and the trend continues in our 21st century. Many of today’s youth camps continue to share our outdoor heritage throughout the nation. Private camps exist in virtually every state that include some sort of traditional shooting activity whether with a rifle, shotgun air gun or archery equipment and some even impart invaluable hunting lessons. While our modern world seems to struggle with its moral compass, at least traditional shooting and hunting activities continue to draw youth into our great outdoors.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has a phenomenal Camp Adventure (CA) youth program. CA attendees are immersed in 12 days of shooting, hunting and outdoor lessons under the certified supervision of NRA instructors and volunteers. Camp activities include firearm safety, fundamental shooting techniques and trigger time with rifles, pistols, shotguns, black powder rifles and even high power rifles at targets up to 1,000 yards away. Participants even get a chance to visit a deserted mining town. The fee for this camp is $950 per person and generally occurs twice during summer months at Camp Whittington, in New Mexico.

John Annoni’s Two Million Bullets (2MB) fundraising program seeks $1 donations from two million supporters, then of course, continue from there. Funds currently support Camp Compass, an Allentown, Pennsylvania program founded by Annoni, but the goal of 2MB is to eventually provide grants to other mentor-styled hunting and academic camp programs. “We’re interested in reaching and supporting longitudinal youth camp programs focused on mentoring youth academically as well as through shooting, hunting and outdoor platforms.”

There is no fee for CC other than $10 for the uniform t-shirt. CC’s formula for success includes five distinct levels of learning and experience:

  • Exposure – This initial step can be as simple as a trip to an outdoor retailer like Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops or Gander Mountain.
  • Exploration – Learning various fundamental lessons about shooting, hunting and outdoor recreation.
  • Extension – This is the longest step and includes academic mentoring and a deeper look at explorative topics. Extension activities also include shooting simulation, firearm safety and lessons in fundamental shooting techniques. Participation averages three years before progressing to the next phase.
  • Application – During this phase, youth put learned lessons to practice in live shooting, hunting trips and other hands-on adventures.
  • Mentoring – Successful youth get the chance to pay their life-change forward by mentoring new Camp Compass enrollees.

CrossTimbers Family Adventure Camp (FAC) takes youth camp a little further by offering families an opportunity to learn outdoor skills… as a family. Based in Sulphur, Oklahoma, FAC occurs every September. During FAC, pro staff hunters, volunteers and even the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife are on-hand to impart invaluable shooting instruction. Participants learn and improve on rifle, pistol, shotgun, muzzleloader and archery shooting while also attending hunting, fishing, shooting and firearm safety seminars. CrossTimbers is also planning to add other family and youth weekend trips throughout the year that include shooting and hunting lessons. Fees range from $50 for individuals to $170 for a family and include all seminars and meals.

Other nationwide programs such as the Boy Scouts of America Shooting Program, NRA Youth Programs and the National Wild Turkey Federation Jakes Program offer day and overnight camping activities themed in hunting and shooting.

Two Million Bullets' John Annoni and young participant in Camp Compass program with a prize deer The truth is youth camps with shooting opportunities are so widespread that internet search engines like Google and calls to the local Boy Scouts, shooting ranges and even church organizations are often your best way to get informed. Most camps are held during summer months; exceptions include mentoring type youth programs like CC that occur year round.

Planning for youth camp means the sooner the better. Space is often limited and depending on your budget, grants and sponsorship may be available through your local resources if you take the time to look around; the early bird gets the worm.

Are you interested in the programs highlighted above? More information and complete details are available through the contact information and links below:

NRA Adventure Camp
www.NRAWC.org/Adventure
Email jfisher@nrawc.org
Call 800-494-4853

Two Million Bullets
www.TwoMillionBullets.org
Email info@campcompass.org
Call 610-778-0576

Camp Compass
www.CampCompass.org
Email info@campcompass.org
Call 610-778-0576

CrossTimbers Family Adventure Camp
www.CTOKC.org
Email crosstimbers_ok@yahoo@yahoo.com
Call Becky Cox at 405-816-7444

Boy Scouts of America Shooting Program
www.scouting.org/Home/OutdoorProgram/ShootingSports.aspx
Curt Palmer at curt.palmer@scouting.org

National Wild Turkey Federation Jakes Program
www.NWTF.org/Jakes
Jakes Events – http://www.nwtf.org/jakes/events.html
Email info@nwtf.net
Call 800-843-6983

LINKS:

Two Million Bulletshttp://www.twomillionbullets.org

Camp Compasshttp://www.campcompass.org

National Rifle Associationhttp://home.nra.org/#/home

Camp Adventurehttp://www.nrawc.org/adventure

CrossTimbers Family Adventure Camphttp://www.ctokc.org

Boy Scouts of America Shooting Programhttp://www.scouting.org/home/outdoorprogram/sh

ootingsports.aspx

NRA Youth Programshttp://youth.nra.org

National Wild Turkey Federation Jakeshttp://www.nwtf.org/jakes

Boy Scoutshttp://www.scouting.org

Photos courtesy of www.CampCompass.org, www.TwoMillionBullets.org and the NRA.

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