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Conservation kids camp comes to fruition

by Mark Rhodes
| April 15, 2010 9:00 PM

Natural resource agencies, and sportsmen across the country, are coming to the realization that our outdoor traditions and heritage lie, to a great extent, in the recruitment of young outdoor recreationists. Across the country, more and more kids are losing touch with the natural world, and missing out on the great outdoors.

The problem has been linked to increases in childhood obesity and other health concerns. From a societal standpoint, kids that don't connect with the outdoors are less likely to have an appreciation or tolerance for outdoor traditions, and the important role they play in the conservation and wise use of our natural resources.

We need to introduce kids to the outdoors. It's good for the kids, good for our society, good for the outdoor heritage we cherish, and good for sportsmen.

The Idaho Conservation Officer's Association (ICOA) and IDFG both recognize that one of our primary missions should be to reach young people, and help them get excited about outdoor recreation. A couple of years ago, this priority spawned the idea of hosting a statewide Youth Conservation Camp somewhere in Idaho. Now that is becoming a reality.

After becoming familiar with what some other states were doing for summer camps, and a lot of planning - Idaho will have a camp this summer. ICOA is partnering with IDFG, BLM, and others, to host the Youth Conservation Camp in Cascade, Aug. 9-13, at the Trinity Pines camp facility. The camp is open to kids who will be 10, 11 or 12 years of age on Aug. 9, and the all-inclusive cost is $200 per camper. The campers will be accepted on a first-come-first-serve basis, and the goal for this first year is to have 30 kids at camp for the week.

The camp activities will be centered on a wide variety of outdoor projects. Kids that attend will go through Hunter Education, but this should not exclude kids who have already completed Hunter Ed. It is not the only thing they'll do, and all kids benefit from receiving that training a second time. In addition to Hunter Education, we will do a Ropes Challenge Course, shoot various types of firearms, introduce them to fishing, trapping and archery skills, hold a GPS treasure hunt, and float the Payette River. Plus they'll simply spend some time playing, hiking and learning about the outdoors. Aside from the actual activities, the team-building and social skills learned at an outdoor summer camp can last a lifetime.

You can get familiar with the Trinity Pines facility by visiting http://www.tpines.org and you'll see why we chose this site. Visit http://icoaonline.org to get more information about the camp, or to print a copy of the application. If you have a kid, or know of a kid, who would like to spend a week this summer having a blast in the outdoors, please fill out an application and send it in promptly. I sure wish I'd had this opportunity as a kid because I know I would have remembered it for a lifetime!

If you have any questions, please contact Coeur d'Alene District Conservation Officer Mark Rhodes via e-mail at mark.rhodes@idfg.idaho.gov or at 769-1414 and he'll be more than happy to visit with you. Our kids are worth the effort!

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