Commentary by David J. Wielicki – SCWA Executive Director
The 2016 Camp Woodie summer session set an attendance record with 986 campers. Thanks to support from local chapters, SCWA members, and corporate sponsors, we were able to provide 202 scholarships for youth to attend Camp Woodie.
I would like to extend a special thanks to the SCWA Education Program Team who did an outstanding job running Camp Woodie. The Camp Woodie Team was led by second year Camp Woodie Director, Justin Grider, Assistant Director Keller Kissam, Jr., lead shooting instructor Katie Childress and a phenomenal team of counselors, expert instructors, and facility support staff. Past Camp Woodie Director, Ed Paul, who is now our Director of Sales and Marketing for Education Programs and Joe Gonzalez, Camp Leopold Director, were also a big part of Camp Woodie’s success this summer.
We are both saddened and excited to report Justin Grider, Camp Woodie Director, has taken a new position in his home state of Alabama. Justin will be helping to lead youth conservation education efforts for the Alabama Department of Natural Resources. Everyone will miss Justin and his wife Hannah but we are comforted by the fact they will become leaders in youth conservation education in their home state. As Justin begins this new position, he is helping SCWA fulfill part of the SCWA Wildlife Education Center mission which is to train education professionals who will have an impact on conservation education across the country.
While employed at SCWA, Justin did an outstanding job mentoring Keller Kissam, Jr. and Katie Childress. Keller has accepted the position of Camp Woodie Director while Katie Childress has accepted the position of Assistant Camp Director. Keller has served as a camp counselor for two summers and as the Assistant Camp Director this past summer. Keller will work part-time until he completes his degree from Clemson University in early May 2017. Katie Childress is a Clemson graduate with a major in Environmental and Natural Resources and a minor in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. Katie started her full-time position on August 15, 2016. Justin Grider will continue to work with Keller and Katie over the next year to assist with the interviewing and hiring of camp counselors, counselor training, and the maintenance of American Camping Association certification standards. Over the next eight months, Katie will handle all Camp Woodie calls, camp registrations, and inquiries about the summer 2017 session. Katie, with assistance from Ed Paul and Jonathan Patrick, will handle all youth hunting programs.
As a supporter of SCWA, you can be proud of the fact that your Association employs a highly skilled team of wildlife education experts who are delivering quality conservation education programs. The SCWA Education Program Team will continue to improve the quality and impact of the nation’s largest wildlife conservation camp program. In the coming year, we look forward to breaking another Camp Woodie attendance record while doubling the number of camper days of our school-year program, Camp Leopold. Read about the first Camp Leopold session of the 2016-2017 school year in our August 24th blog post.
Your support is critical to the success of these programs and is greatly appreciated.