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.


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.


Celebrating 30 years of conservation success

CollageThanks to the dedicated efforts of more than 500 volunteers and the financial support of more than 4,500 South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) members and sponsors, your Association has accomplished the following in the past 30 years:

  • Distributed and installed 22,650 wood duck nest boxes resulting in the production of more than 990,000 wood ducks.
  • Created the 410-acre SCWA Wildlife Education Center (WEC), the home of SCWA’s Camp Woodie, the nation’s leading youth wildlife education summer camp. The WEC is also home to Camp Leopold, SCWA’s school-year natural resource,  conservation camp for 3rd – 7th graders. In 2016, more than 900 youth attended Camp Woodie and more than 6,000 youth will attend Camp Leopold. Since 1986, Conservation Education has been provided to more than 82,000 youth.
  • Provided wetland management assistance to 600 landowners resulting in the creation and enhancement of thousands of acres of managed wetlands.
  • Produced more than 160,000 songbirds and released 880,000 mallards.
  • Added 75 to 100 thousand waterfowl to South Carolina’s waterfowl population on an annual basis.
  • Grown to become the Nation’s second largest state Waterfowl Association.

To ensure future years of success and growth, we must expand our commitment to conserve and enhance South Carolina’s waterfowl and wetland resources. We need your help to pass on the legacy of our waterfowl and wildlife heritage to the next

To learn more about SCWA or to become a member call 803-452-6001 or visit

I greatly appreciate your interest and support.

Here’s to the next 30 years!

David J. Wielicki
South Carolina Waterfowl Association Executive Director

2016 Native American Artifact Show

The Piedmont Archaeological Society of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina is sponsoring a Native American artifact show on Saturday, March 12th, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) Wildlife Education Center near Rimini, SC.  Collectors and Experts will display thousands of
South Carolina and Southeastern Native American artifacts.  Admission is free and lunch is available for $5 per person.

Collectors are encouraged to attend.  Archaeological experts will be on hand to identify and age your artifacts.  If you are a collector or dealer and would like to exhibit please contact David Wielicki at 803-452-6001 or   Dealer tables are available for $25 each and display tables for collectors are available for $10 each.

Directions to the SCWA Wildlife Education Center can be found by going to the SCWA web site at  The directions are on the home page.

2015 – SCWA’s 29th Year of Conservation Success

David J. Wielicki

In our 29th year of operation we look forward to meeting the challenges of the many exciting waterfowl conservation and natural resource education opportunities before us.   Thanks to the support of thousands of members, volunteers and corporate sponsors 2015 will be the best year yet for SCWA.

In the past 6 months we have made over $300,000 worth of capital improvements to the 410 acre SCWA Wildlife Education Center, the home of Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold.   Attendance at both conservation camps will break past records with Camp Woodie attendance projected to exceed 850 youth and Camp Leopold attendance projected to exceed 3,000 student campers.    You can be proud of the fact that your Association is a national leader in passing on the legacy of our wildlife heritage.  Within three years Camp Woodie annual attendance is expected to reach 1,080 youth while Camp Leopold attendance will exceed 10,000 students each school year.  Thanks to camp scholarship funding from individuals, chapters and corporations, donated scholarships will allow over one thousand youth to attend camp programs free of charge on an annual basis.

This year the SCWA Board of Directors has taken a major step in securing the future of SCWA wildlife conservation and education programs by setting up the SCWA Endowment and Planned Giving Program.  The SCWA endowment will provide reliable annual income to support SCWA programs.    Endowment funding will help SCWA to maintain and enhance the Wildlife Education Center and to keep program tuition fees as low as possible.  The SCWA endowment will also support waterfowl conservation programs.

In the coming year, SCWA waterfowl biologists will continue to enhance waterfowl and wetland habitat by providing technical assistance to private and public landowners across South Carolina.   SCWA looks forward to working with SCDNR, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl and the South Carolina Conservation Bank as a member of the new Pintail Partners Program.  Pintail Partners is working to provide increased waterfowl hunting opportunities for South Carolina youth while also working to enhance waterfowl habitat and hunting opportunity across South Carolina.

On the waterfowl habitat front, we are very excited about the abundant spring rainfall across South Carolina.  The wet conditions will help local wood duck populations to have a successful nesting season.  This year SCWA will install and distribute 300 wood duck nest boxes across South Carolina.  We look forward to increased wood duck populations.

The future of SCWA looks bright thanks to the support of a wonderful team of members, dedicated volunteers, experienced staff and a committed Board of Directors.  If you are not involved in supporting SCWA we hope you will become a member or chapter volunteer.   Your support is essential to achieving our mission to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and waterfowl habitat conservation.

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Are We Harvesting Too Many Wood Ducks?

David J. Wielicki

David J. Wielicki

For the past two hunting seasons I have noticed a substantial decrease in the number of wood ducks wintering in the Lake Marion area.  Other hunters across South Carolina have also noticed a general decline in the number of wood ducks wintering on private impoundments and public wetland areas across the state despite excellent wetland conditions.  The decrease in wintering wood duck numbers has some biologists and hunters wondering if a 3 bird wood duck bag limit may be too high to maintain in years of low wood duck production.

Low precipitation across the Southeast and the Atlantic coast two years ago resulted in poor wetland conditions during the wood duck breeding season.  This had a negative impact on wood duck nesting success and recruitment of young into the population.  Last year wetland conditions improved across the area.  Nest success in SCWA nest box projects also improved dramatically.  However, myself and many other hunters did not see a noticeable increase in wintering wood duck populations.  During the 2014 breeding season wetland conditions have been good to excellent in some areas and should result in a good wood duck hatch with increased wintering populations.

Although low wintering wood duck numbers over the past two years could be a local phenomenon, low numbers this winter would add to my concern over wood duck populations.  Despite my concern, as a waterfowl biologist I know that local observations have limited value in making waterfowl management decisions.  In order to determine if we are harvesting too many wood ducks during waterfowl season increased banding of young wood ducks is needed across the Southeastern and Atlantic states.  A  strong annual banding effort is the only way to provide the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) with the data needed to determine if annual survival rates are too low to support a 3 bird wood duck limit.

I have expressed my concerns with USFWS Atlantic Flyway Biologist, Paul Padding, who assured me the USFWS plans to closely monitor the effect of harvest on wood duck populations.  The wood duck is the number one duck harvested in South Carolina.   Last year’s estimated harvest was 72,050 wood ducks which is down from the previous year’s estimated harvest of 116,308 birds.   For the past 28 years, SCWA has built, distributed and installed over 22,500 wood duck nest boxes that have hatched over 900,000 wood ducks.  Your Association will continue to work diligently to increase wood duck populations and to support sound harvest management decisions that will conserve our wood duck populations for future generations.  I look forward to keeping every SCWA member informed on this important waterfowl management issue.