Bentley Pontoons and Suzuki donate pontoon boat and motor

Bentley Pontoons and Suzuki donate pontoon boat and motor

On May 31, 2019, Bentley Pontoons Corporation donated a 2019 Bentley Model 180 fish pontoon boat to the South Carolina Waterfowl Association. Suzuki also donated a 2019 40-hp 4-stroke outboard motor to power the boat. The boat and motor will be enjoyed by over 4,000 children who annually attend Camp Woodie (summer camp) and Camp Leopold (school year camp) at SCWA’s 978-acre Wildlife Education Center. While on the new boat, campers will enjoy fishing and wildlife viewing and will learn about boating safety from expert adult instructors.

According to Bentley CEO Ryan Marcott, “The Bentley Pontoons team is excited to provide this boat to help the SCWA Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold programs. Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold are dedicated to passing on the legacy of our outdoor heritage. All of us at Bentley Pontoons support this mission of reconnecting youth and their families to the outdoors, while developing a conservation ethic among our youth.”

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When Curt Bridges, Suzuki District Sales Manager, received a call from Ryan about the possible donation, Suzuki immediately committed their support by donating the motor. “Suzuki is proud to support the Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold programs, and we are excited about the positive impact both camps have on developing the next generation of conservationists.”

On behalf of the entire organization, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Bentley Pontoons and Suzuki for their support of SCWA’s education programs.

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Essay Contest for Joey Szorosy Scholarships

Essay Contest for Joey Szorosy Scholarships

This year, Camp Woodie is implementing a writing contest to decide the two winners of the Camp Woodie Joey Szorosy Scholarship. One winner will win a free week of junior camp (ages 8-11), and the other will win a free week of senior camp (ages 12-16). These scholarships are in memory of former Camp Woodie camper, Joey Szorosy.

Joey Szorosy was loved by so many, including those who knew him at Camp Woodie. He spent two summers at Camp Woodie as a camper and returned for a third summer as a counselor in training (CIT). Joey passed away unexpectedly at the age of 17 on March 25, 2018. Joey’s parents have very generously donated this junior scholarship and senior scholarship to send two children to Camp Woodie in honor and memory of their beloved son.

This contest is open to all children ages 8-16. One scholarship will be awarded to a camper age 8-11, and the other to a camper age 12-16. To enter the contest, the child must write an essay no less than 500 words about why he/she would like to have the opportunity to earn the scholarship for a week at Camp Woodie and what that week at Camp Woodie would mean to them. This essay must include the camper’s name, age and an email address to contact should their essay be selected. The deadline to submit a camper essay will be May 24, 2019. To submit a camper essay, email the document to campwoodie@scwa.org. Any submissions that are not emailed to this address will not be accepted.

 

First duck hunt at Boyd Camp proves a success

First duck hunt at Boyd Camp proves a success

Twelve groups of Camp Woodie parents and senior campers pulled up to the Boyd Camp site last night for a time of fun and fellowship around the fire pits before they settled down in their cabins for the night. This morning, the first duck hunt at Boyd Camp went off with a bang!

The hunters endured a rainy morning in the blinds and harvested several different species. Parents and campers came in with mallards, wood ducks, lesser scaup, and even a redhead! SCWA is thankful to be able to give parents and campers this opportunity to hunt alongside one another thanks to the Boyd Foundation. These parent/child hunts are creating moments for wildlife heritage to be passed on to the next generation.

Thank you so much to the parents, campers, hunt guides, and especially to the Boyd Foundation for making this opportunity possible.

Seven more Boyd Camp duck hunts are scheduled through the remainder of the season, and we look forward to seeing more parents and campers!

 

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Camp Woodie breaks ground and attendance record

Camp Woodie breaks ground and attendance record

Camp Woodie found great success this summer, hosting 1,125 campers throughout the 11-week duration of summer camp. This new record attendance signifies development and growth that Camp Woodie’s staff and supporters worked so hard for this summer. Over 260 campers received their hunter’s safety certification, while 102 campers completed the boater’s education course.

Camp Woodie staff looked to Camp Director, Keller Kissam, Jr. and Assistant Camp Director, Cortlyn Maner for leadership this summer. Keller managed the staff through another strong summer with the help of his dynamic assistant director. Although this was her first year in an administrative role at camp, Cortlyn has been a vital part of Camp Woodie since her first year as a camper at 8 years old.

Through her 14 summers spent at Camp Woodie as a camper, CIT, counselor, photographer and now assistant director, Cortlyn has developed a connection with camp that few can match. Cortlyn had this to say about the summer of 2018:

“Camp has always had a special place in my heart, and this summer, I was able to see it from a different perspective. As the assistant director, I was able to share my passion with campers and staff, while growing as a person. I’m happy to have been fortunate enough to be a part of another record-breaking summer, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

The Wildlife Education Center will boast a brand new entrance next summer, as well as a new lodging building, which will allow Camp Woodie to accommodate 60 more campers than summers past. Camp staff members are working hard to develop new, captivating activities for next summer to keep Camp Woodie’s quality at an all-time high.

Camp Director, Keller Kissam stated, “With all of this new growth, we have the potential to expand our current activities, as well as add new ones. Each time campers return to camp, they should have a new experience compared to the previous year. We’re excited for so many opportunities to grow, and we hope that next year will be even better than before. We couldn’t do it without everyone who has contributed to camp in years past.”

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Boyd Camp to open in September

Boyd Camp to open in September

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association has received a grant from the Boyd Foundation to purchase 127 acres adjacent to the SCWA Wildlife Education Center. The Boyd Foundation grant also provided funding to develop 60 acres of waterfowl habitat, nature trails and to enhance wildlife habitat on the balance of the 127-acre property. The grant also provided funding for a new parent/child primitive camping area that will be used throughout the year and will be called “SCWA Boyd Camp.” The primitive camp site will feature a cook shed, 5 rustic 4-person cabins, fire pits and game cleaning stations.

The addition of the SCWA Boyd Camp brings the total acreage of the SCWA Wildlife Education Center to 568 acres. In addition to natural resource conservation education programs that operate through the year, the SCWA Boyd Camp presents the unique opportunity for a parent to hunt alongside his/her senior camper. A hunt at Boyd Camp will count as the Camp Woodie senior camper’s chosen youth hunt that is offered with their senior Camp Woodie registration. Camp Woodie will offer 8 duck hunts at Boyd Camp with 12 parents and 12 children per hunt, as well as 5 deer hunts at Boyd Camp with 6 parents and 6 children per hunt. Each type of hunt will cost $125 per parent/child group (1 parent, 1 child). Hunters will be responsible for bringing their own food for the duration of their stay, as well as sleeping bags and pillows for the night before the hunt. For duck hunts, the 20 lodging spots will be first come first served.

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is excited to present this opportunity to Camp Woodie parents and campers. Parents will now have the ability to choose a Boyd Camp hunt on their Camp Woodie account online, just like the regular youth hunts. However, no one may sign up for a youth hunt until they have already registered and paid for a senior week of camp at Camp Woodie.

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Praiseworthy Pintail Partners

Praiseworthy Pintail Partners

On Saturday, February 3rd, Camp Woodie hosted the 4th annual Pintail Partners hunt at the SCWA Wildlife Education Center. 76 boys and girls of all different ages arrived that day to participate in the largest youth hunt in the nation. The Pintail Partners hunt is a partnership between the South Carolina Waterfowl Association, SCDNR, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited and the Harry Hampton Foundation to provide young people with an outstanding duck hunt on one of several stellar properties with the hope to get these youth involved in waterfowl and wetland conservation.

Hunters and their parents arrived in the middle of the day to take part in a delicious lunch and mingle among other hunters. Each child received a bag from Delta Waterfowl, filled with swag from Ducks Unlimited and Camp Woodie. Additionally, TNT Taxidermy, Winn Tuck Waterfowl, and The Waterfowl Company had displays and representatives on site for youth and parents to peruse before the hunt talk. These young hunters were bursting with excitement to get out to their hunting blind, and their parents were just as thrilled, if not more-so.

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Before all of the hunters, parents and guides dispersed to their blinds, Marvin Davant of the Harry Hampton Foundation relayed an important message to the 76 young hunters: “One day, you’re going to be standing where I’m standing, and it’s going to be your job to keep waterfowl hunting alive. Think about how important this day is for you and how important it might be for somebody else one day.”

Pintail Partners would not be possible without the amazing organizations, land owners, staff members, guides, waterfowl hunting supporters, as well as parents and youth, who come together to make it happen. It truly takes a village.

Thank you so much to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited and the Harry Hampton Foundation for donating the funds and materials to make this hunt successful. Thank you to all of the organizations’ staff members who put forth their time and effort to help the event run efficiently. Thank you to the hunt guides who volunteered to spend their Saturday leading and educating these young hunters. Thank you to Jimmy Lee (Featherhorn Farms), Larry Avins, Lou Tocci (Two Ponds), Charlie Rountree (Hickory Hill), Will & Albert Freeman (The Beach Company), David Wielicki (SCWA), and Joe Blanchard for allowing their properties to be used for this youth hunt.  Thank you to the parents who registered their children for this hunt to get them involved in the outdoors.

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association hopes that, through this hunt and more Pintail Partners hunts to come, we can instill in the next generation a love and appreciation for waterfowl and wetlands conservation, so they can keep it going for generations to come.

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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.