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.

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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.

In the kitchen – Spicy Dove on Tomato

In the kitchen – Spicy Dove on Tomato

We recently hosted the first youth hunts of the season (more on that in our September 20 blog post). Since the events were dove hunts, we asked our friend The Sporting Chef about sharing one of his recipes with you.

Scott, The Sporting Chef, describes his spicy dove on tomato dish as “spicy, cool, cheesy and juicy – all in the same bite,” and from the recipe it certainly sounds that way. The recipe serves four, has six ingredients, and we estimate at least half an hour of cook time (especially for less experienced cooks) once you begin.

See and print the full recipe here. If you give it a go, be sure to tag Camp Woodie’s Instagram account (@campwoodie) in a post.

Good luck in the kitchen!

P.S. See more SCWA recipe choices from The Sporting Chef here.

 

 

Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold Setting New Records

Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold Setting New Records

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.

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SCWA recognized Justin Grider’s excellent work as Camp Woodie Director at the August board meeting.

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.

 

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Keller Kissam, Jr (left) with a camper and fellow counselor Carter White (right).
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Katie Childress (left) with fellow counselor Brynne Baxley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

SCWA Partners with The Boone & Crockett Club

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The South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) and the Boone and Crockett Club (B&C), North America’s oldest wildlife conservation organization, are proud to announce their new partnership – The Boone and Crockett/Camp Woodie Fellowship Program.  Thanks to a $64,000 grant from the Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, SCWA and the B&C Club have partnered to create a youth wildlife and fisheries conservation fellowship program for 16 and 17 year olds who are seriously considering a career in the field of wildlife conservation.

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Next Spring, 30 Camp Woodie alumni will be selected to receive the fellowship.  Recipients will attend a Level-3 Camp Woodie week where they will interact with wildlife professionals to learn about a career in field of wildlife and fisheries conservation and education.  At the end of the weeklong session they will fly to Montana to spend a week at the 6,000 acre Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch where they will enjoy a 5-day Outdoor Adventure Camp instructed by western wildlife professionals.  Thanks to the grant from Cabelas all expenses will be covered for the program.  The fellowship recipients will represent the best and brightest 16 and 17 year olds who are considering a career as natural resource conservation professionals.Boone and Crockett Club Logo

Those interested in applying for the fellowship should contact Justin Grider, Camp Woodie Director, via email: justin@scwa.org. For more information about SCWA’s Camp Woodie and the B&C Club’s Wildlife Conservation Skills Camp, please check out our websites, www.wildlifeedcenter.org and www.boone-crockett.org.

Shots Fired: Hunter Safety Certification at Camp Woodie Marks New Milestones

   Joe Gonzalez, SCWA Camp Leopold Director of Operations/Hunter’s Safety Instructor


Do you remember the first time you pulled the trigger on a firearm?  Whether it was your dad’s shotgun, or grandpa’s rifle, or maybe your very own that was given to you as a gift, that moment marks a milestone in the life of any outdoorsman or woman.  The anticipation of trying something new, the exhilaration, and of course the timeless question, “Will it kick?

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With 865 youth visiting Camp Woodie this summer, there were a large number of “first-timers” in every session.  Each week, campers who had never fired a shotgun, broken a clay target, aimed a rifle, or drew back a bow opened the door to the simple yet unique aura of the outdoor world.  However, there is more to it than just pulling the trigger or letting arrows fly.Article 2

As outdoorsmen and women, we have a responsibility to ourselves, other hunters and non-hunters alike, and the game we pursue.  This is where our Hunter Education Certification course at Camp Woodie plays a huge role.  The course develops a seamless integration with concepts learned at each shooting venue, and reiterates their importance and application in the field.

Article 1During the course, campers receive a brief history on firearms, beginning with muzzleloaders and moving on to modern shotguns and rifles.  They learn the different components that make up a firearm, and the step-by-step process of what occurs between loading, firing, and ejecting ammunition. Campers learn about the parts and operation of a bow, as well as proper tree stand safety etiquette.

The course concludes with units on Hunter Responsibility, Wildlife Conservation, Survival, and of course an exam to ensure the material has been adequately comprehended.Article 4  This summer, 327 campers (more than a third of the total that attended Camp Woodie) received their certification through Camp Woodie’s Hunter Safety Certification program.  Each and every one of these enrollees gained hands-on field experience with rifles, bows, and shotguns, and then learned about them and their application to hunting situations.  The knowledge and experiences these youth gained through this program are invaluable.  We could not ask for a better set up.

So remember back to that first time you smelled fresh-burnt gunpowder, or saw the arrow quiver in the target you just ten-ringed for the first time, and think about what those experiences have led you to enjoy since.  And that’s what it’s all about.