Camp Leopold earns ACA accreditation

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After months of preparation, Camp Leopold is now officially accredited by the American Camp Association. ACA is dedicated to maintaining high-quality camp programs, and Camp Leopold is very excited to be a part of their list.

Camp Leopold Director Joe Gonzalez said on behalf of him and his staff, “This process has been a tremendous team effort – more than a year in the making.  We are very excited to show our attending schools that we have taken the time to analyze every aspect of our camp to ensure we are delivering a safe and quality program for all who visit.  This process holds us to high standards which will make Camp Leopold more marketable in the years to come – this is a true milestone for us as our program continues to grow.”

The ACA accreditation process helped to ensure that the experience Camp Leopold is providing to South Carolina students is one that will be valued and remembered. ACA’s website assures “ACA-accreditation is solid proof of a camp’s accountability, credibility, and commitment.”

The American Camp Association has a database on its website of over 3,600 camps, 12,000 programs and 47,000 sessions. Camp Leopold will now be a part of that database for viewers on the ACA site to find and research. Camp Leopold is dedicated to helping students learn and grow through knowledge of the natural world, and thanks to the ACA accreditation, we will be able to reach an even wider audience with that knowledge.

 

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Waterfowl Associations Band Together

Waterfowl Associations Band Together

This year, South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s Camp Woodie was missing a few veteran staff members. While they were being missed fiercely by the Camp Woodie staff and campers, they were learning and making an impact in Suisun City, California at California Waterfowl’s summer camp at Grizzly Ranch in the Suisun Marsh, which is the largest contiguous brackish marsh remaining on the west coast of the entire continent.

Hannah Cato, Trey Gardner, and Taylor Byars migrated to the West Coast in the month of May to join the summer staff of California Waterfowl. Their mission was to collaborate with CWA’s staff members to share experiences and techniques from SCWA’s summer camp to compare with CWA’s summer camp at Grizzly Ranch. These staff members flew thousands of miles out of their comfort zones to help and be helped by a sister organization with so much to offer.

When asked if California fulfilled her expectations, Taylor Byars said, “It was everything I expected and more! It’s way more beautiful than anyone gives it credit for, and the people within CWA are phenomenal. They’re always so willing to help you get more experience and stick their neck out for you.” Trey Gardner only had kinds words to share about CWA as well: “We have been shown every hospitality and gratitude during our time here, and I feel strongly that both associations would like to continue this give and take relationship so that both are examples for other organizations to emulate…”

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Hannah, Trey, and Taylor explored Mount Diablo on one of their free days.

All three staff members experienced things with California Waterfowl that they had never done before. At Grizzly Ranch, Camp Woodie veterans were introduced to women’s and veteran’s outdoor programs, weekend camps, and unique camp activities, such as duck banding. Hannah Cato especially enjoyed the veteran’s camp: “The Veteran’s Camp was an amazing experience. I got to work with shotgunners from all different levels and give them instruction on their shooting stance & technique. It was a great chance to give back to people who fought for our freedom and the rights we all hold dear. We had a great time!”

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Hannah and Taylor assisted as shooting instructors for the sporting clays course.

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Taylor assisted in the duck banding activity at Grizzly Ranch.

George Oberstadt, CWA’s Heritage Program Supervisor, was one of many who guided Camp Woodie staff members through their summer with California Waterfowl. George reported, “We shared a ton of ideas back and forth throughout the summer. The biggest thing that I have seen with SCWA folks is the ‘ownership’ they have in the Camp Woodie program. These 3 talked extensively about “WE do this, and WE do that” and were dialed in to the program, even while working here with us. The ‘army’ of folks that SCWA has developed with young, experienced staff and shooting instructors is quite impressive.”

Hannah, Trey, and Taylor were thrilled to be able to represent SCWA and come together with CWA. Trey had this to say about the value of their experience in California:

“I think that there was a mutual gain between the two associations – California Waterfowl gained 3 experienced counselors/shooting instructors and valuable advice that will allow them to move forward and grow their programs in an efficient manner. SCWA in return gained and will gain ideas to expand the variety of camp activities as we continue to grow and need new ideas to provide a diverse and unique experience for campers as they return year after year.”

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Trey enjoyed being a shooting instructor for not only shotguns, but archery and rifles as well. 

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Hannah was no stranger to being a shooting instructor. She served as a shooting instructor at Camp Woodie for 6 summers.

SCWA is so grateful for all of the help and hospitality from California Waterfowl and plans to continue to collaborate with our west coast friends in the future to allow both organizations to grow.

Camp Leopold 2016-2017: A school year in review

Camp Leopold, the school year natural resource program of the SCWA, reached new heights this school year. From August of 2016 to May of 2017, Camp Leopold hosted 3,130 students from 54 different schools all over South Carolina.

These students spent their field trips at Camp Leopold learning in various classes, from “Creatures of the Wood” to “Human Impact at Camp Leopold.” Fun times were had by all at the South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s 537-acre classroom.

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Canoeing

An astounding $72,080 of scholarships supported many of these students to attend Camp Leopold with their school for 1, 2, or 2.5 days. These scholarships were earned and provided by SCWA chapters all over the state and our generous Camp Leopold sponsors.

Thank you to all of the schools that came, as well as the administrators and educators who made it happen. Thank you to our sponsoring corporations – Boeing of North Charleston, Duke Energy, SCE&G, Wells Fargo, Palmetto Pride, Dominion, Albemarle, South Carolina Farm Bureau, O’Dell Corporation, VLS Recovery Services, Marshall Air Systems, Sea Hunt Boats, International Paper, Walmart, and Honda of South Carolina, for providing so many students with the opportunity to experience Camp Leopold.

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Camp Leopold is expected to host 1,500 students from 15-20 schools during the 2017 fall semester alone. The program is growing by leaps and bounds, and Camp Leopold hopes to continue to spread its outreach further than ever before in the coming school year.

If you would like to book a trip to Camp Leopold or have any questions, please visit the Camp Leopold website or contact Camp Leopold Director, Joe Gonzalez, at joe@scwa.org.

Securing the Future – The SCWA Foundation

In our 30th year of conservation success the South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) Board of Directors has taken a major step toward securing a bright future for SCWA:  the creation of the SCWA Foundation, a new nonprofit entity with the sole purpose of supporting SCWA conservation and education programs.

You might wonder,  why does SCWA need to form a supporting Foundation.  There are two reasons:

The first is liability.  The SCWA Foundation will hold and invest SCWA Endowment assets.  Over the years these assets will grow to a significant number.  The SCWA Endowment committee has set an endowment funding  goal of $10 million dollars and are working hard to achieve this goal.   The formation of the Foundation provides a layer of protection for these endowment funds in the event that SCWA is sued.  The SCWA Board of Directors also recognizes its fiduciary responsibility to protect the assets of SCWA and the funds that donors contribute to the SCWA Endowment.

Second, the SCWA Foundation gives us a structured way to manage permanent gifts.  Donors can restrict their gift for a specific  SCWA program use.  Donors can also decide how much of their gift can be used on an annual basis by SCWA.   The Foundation allows you to give a tax deductible gift for the general support of SCWA or to endow specific programs such as Camp Woodie or Camp Leopold scholarships, wood duck nest box programs, waterfowl habitat development projects, building maintenance or staff positions.

A donor can make two types of gifts to the SCWA Foundation.  These include current gifts and bequests ( planned gifts).  A current gift is given by living donors and a bequest (planned gift) is given after the donor dies.  Gifts can include cash, stock, real estate, art work or personal property.    SCWA has retained Winton Smith who is one of the top estate planning attorneys in the country to help donors with their estate planning at no charge to the donor.  Winton prides himself in providing sound estate planning advice which helps people leave more money to the people they love and the causes they care deeply about.

To kick off the current giving portion of the SCWA Endowment the SCWA Board of Directors has created the Camp Woodie Legacy Society.  Members of the Camp Woodie Legacy Society are the founding members of the SCWA Endowment and pledge to donate a total of $30,000 to the endowment over a period of one to three years.   I am excited to report SCWA is half way toward reaching our goal of $1 million in current gifts.  Seventeen people have joined the Camp Woodie Legacy Society in just 18 months pledging a total of $510,000 to the SCWA Endowment.

For the first three years of the SCWA Foundation all endowment assets will be reinvested to grow the SCWA Endowment according to a Board approved investment policy being implemented by Morgan Stanley.  Starting in 2020 the Foundation will annually donate 3 to 5 percent of the endowment assets to support SCWA conservation and education programs.

If you are interested in making a donation to the SCWA Endowment, please contact David Wielicki, scwadw@ftc-i.net, 803-452-6001 (O), 803-600-8979 (C).  Your consideration of support is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Gary Dietrich

SCWA Endowment Committee Chairman

Nature’s story-time, a walk through the woods with Generations Group

CAMP LEOPOLD – The bus that arrived the morning of October 14 carried a group of young men who would remain engaged and inquisitive the entire day.

On scholarship from VLS Recovery, boys from Generations Group walked into Chace Lodge eager to absorb every single bit of knowledge the SCWA education staff would provide.

Generations Group is a non-profit based in the Upstate of South Carolina. Its mission “is to prevent sexual abuse by helping neglected and/or at-risk adolescent and pre-adolescent males overcome abusive behaviors.” The young men attending Camp Leopold live at the Generations facility full-time; many will soon be leaving the facility and returning home.

For security reasons, no photos that identified the young men were taken. Instead, the SCWA Communications Director, accompanied the group during their walk through the woods. The goal was to document some of the things a typical group could expect to see during a session at Camp Leopold.  Here are the highlights:

TREES

Obviously. It was a walk through the woods after all. What was interesting wasn’t the fact that trees were around but the perspective the instructors offered when it came to looking at the trees. Unless you live in a place like NYC, you’re probably going to see a tree at some point during the day. What you might not see is the way that tree is interacting with other plants – how it’s fighting for sunlight, providing food for turkeys, or acting as a territory marker for deer. You probably don’t notice the tilt of the branches or the shape of the leaves but those things are important when you’re trying to identify the tree species, or the tree’s health. When you’re surrounded by trees  (eg: a walk in the woods) it’s much more difficult to not notice the unique characteristics of each plant.

SIGNS OF ANIMAL LIFE

It’s possible you’ll see a paw print from your neighbor’s dog on the sidewalk if the ground is wet from rain but when you take a walk through the woods with a Camp Leopold instructor you start to notice signs of animal life. You start to wonder how recently the raccoon walked across the path or why the bird chose that exact tree to build their nest.

MOSS, FUNGI, ETC.

While taking a walk through the woods, things that might be considered gross or annoying on a city sidewalk suddenly tell part of an ongoing story. The growth of fungi on a fallen tree trunk tells you if the soil is remaining moist from recent storms. Mushrooms or plants that require roots in the ground provide nutrition for invasive species such as wild hogs. Spanish Moss, which isn’t actually a moss but a flowering plant, defies what you learned in school about plants needing soil to grow.

A walk through the woods at Camp Leopold is nature’s version of story-time. Instructors and nature are co-storytellers. You might not sit crisscross-applesauce on a multi-colored carpet, but you’re still drawn in by the characters, the plot, and the pictures. No two stories (walks) are ever the same.

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The SCWA Camp Leopold team greatly appreciates the scholarship offering by VLS Recovery. We look forward to Generations Group’s next trip to Camp.

For more information about Camp Leopold, visit www.WildlifeEdCenter.org and like the Camp Leopold Facebook Page, @CampLeopold.

 

 

SCWA staff members attend camp for adults (aka the 2016 Fall Camp Conference)

Recently, our two camp directors attended the 2016 Southeastern Fall Camp Conference in Greenville, SC. The conference was hosted by the American Camp Association (ACA) which works as a network of camp professionals to “enrich the lives of children, youth and adults through the camp experience.” (See ACA Mission and Vision)

Joe Gonzalez and Keller Kissam, Jr. of SCWA spent three days at the Embassy Suites Greenville Golf Resort and Conference Center meeting other camp professionals, discussing resolutions to industry challenges, and absorbing ideas for future projects. “It was the good kind of information overload,” Camp Leopold Director, Joe Gonzalez, said about the trip. “I’ve already got one person who said they would send some information over about a project idea.”

Camp Woodie, SCWA’s summer education program, has earned accreditation from the ACA. Camp Leopold, SCWA’s school-year program, is working on earning ACA accreditation now.

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Keller Kissam, Jr. SCWA’s Camp Woodie Director, and Joe Gonzalez, SCWA’s Camp Leopold Director, pause to snap a selfie during the 2016 Southeastern Fall Camp Conference hosted the American Camp Association in Greenville.

Camp for adults in the industry looks a bit different than camp sessions at the Wildlife Education Center (WEC). Here’s how “camp” for adults compares to SCWA education programs.

LOCATION

ACA: If a conference is hosted in a city that is new to you it can be an adventure to travel and explore a new place. If the conference is hosted in the same place year after year, you will probably have some favorite spots. It can also be fun to introduce newcomers to the best places in town.

WEC: Visiting a 410-acre education center means you probably won’t see every inch of the property but you’re sure to have some new adventures. From canoeing to capture the flag, science to shotgun practice, and time under the stars, there is always something fun to do at the WEC.

ACTIVITIES

ACA: Education professionals gather in ballrooms or meeting rooms for seminars, demonstrations, keynote presentations, and discussions. Some sessions will plan team building exercises. Almost all gatherings happen indoors.

WEC: Kids receive instruction about a skill or activity and then practice what they learned in hands-on situations. Campers go canoeing, walk through wetlands, complete an archery course, or try their hand at shooting. Groups gather around campfires for evening snacks, songs, and stories. Almost all gatherings happen outdoors.

FOOD

ACA: Many conferences will provide a few meals throughout the duration of the conference as a way to facilitate networking. These meals are often boxed lunches or sandwich/salad buffets. Since many conferences are held in a city, you will sometimes see conference attendees grabbing a bite to eat or a drink together in the evening.

WEC: A typical day at Camp Woodie or Camp Leopold will include fresh fruit, juice, plenty of water, vegetables, plenty of protein (our jumbo chicken tenders are a big hit!), maybe a sweet treat, and some type of grain/carbohydrate (french toast sticks are well liked for breakfast…yum!) Students who attend Camp Leopold often want to take the kitchen staff back to their school with them.

 

 

LEARNING

ACA: Seminars, discussion panels, and networking events might not sound like fun when compared to summer camp or school field trips but for camp professionals they can be a chance to expand knowledge, inspire creativity, and explore challenging ideas. Professionals often return from conferences energized and renewed.

WEC: Campers are always learning something while at the WEC. Even during transition times, kids are learning about nature and life. Campers often have the opportunity to obtain special certifications, learn from industry experts, and master a new skill.

FRIENDSHIP

ACA: Conferences are all about discussion, education, and networking. Camp professionals will have numerous chances to speak with experts in the field, meet staff members from other camps, and exchange ideas and business cards. You might just meet a future employee, consultant, business partner, or boss.

WEC: Summer campers often leave having made friends from other towns and will become pen-pals until the next summer. Some even grow up to be college roommates! School-year campers leave knowing more about their classmates’ interests. They might bond over their new love for the outdoors or decide to work together on their next science project.

While the settings, meals, and clientele differ, the mission of a conference and the mission of a camp for kids is pretty similar. Both experiences help people grow, learn new things, and meet new people. SCWA team members enjoyed their time in Greenville, S.C. but are happy to be back at the WEC and continue working toward the next camp program achievement.

Read about Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold’s recent attendance records in our blog post from August titled: Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold setting new records.

Camp Woodie youth hunts offer fellowship and family fun

Camp Woodie youth hunts offer fellowship and family fun

WILDLIFE EDUCATION CENTER – If the size of a smile indicates success, then the first two youth hunts of the season surpassed expectations. Approximately 30 senior campers from the summer 2016 camp season visited Camp Woodie on September 10 or 17 for youth dove hunts.

Almost as many counselors as campers returned as mentors for the event. Campers were able to show their parents the skills they learned or refined during their week at Camp Woodie. “I think every youth took home a bird. Everyone seemed to have a good time,” Assistant Camp Director Katie Childress said when asked about the success of the event.

If you go dove hunting again and want a new recipe to try, our friend The Sporting Chef, has a great spicy dove on tomato option. We haven’t tested it but the description sounds delicious – “This appetizer preparation is spicy, cool, cheesy and juicy – all in the same bite.”

Here are some of our favorite pictures from the hunts. Search “Camp Woodie” on Facebook to see the complete photo gallery.

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Senior campers are always invited back for a youth dove or duck hunt. For details on the youth hunt program, e-mail campwoodie@scwa.org.

More information about Camp Woodie, SCWA’s summer, youth education program, is available at www.WildlifeEdCenter.org.