We just finished our 15th Camp! Has it been that long? People have asked if I look back over the years and have a favorite. Each year has its own personality for sure. Of course, weather has a lot to do with that. One year, it was raining so bad we were wearing plastic ponchos and garbage bags to keep dry. I remember there was one kid with a cast on his leg and just his toes sticking out…his very wet toes. I would take the rain over the wind though. We had one really windy year and awnings broke, papers were everywhere and targets didn’t stay tacked down.
Whatever the weather ends up like, it’s the kids that make it or break it. There were a few years where it seemed we got a specific demographic of kids. One year we had a lot of kids from single moms. Another year we got a lot of kids whose parents were deployed. We’ve had a couple of years where the kids were from families whose dad was a white-collar guy that either didn’t have outdoor experience or didn’t have the time to get out.
The 250 kids as a collective group always has a personality. One year we had a larger amount of 9 year olds. So, there was a lot of “Stop playing in the dirt” and “You should stay with your group”. Occasionally the group seems to have a little attitude. Every year is different though. Then there are the years where the kids are incredibly appreciative, they are enthusiastic, they hug the volunteers, they beam when they bust a clay, they squeal and cry when they win a gun, they tell the Orange Army thank you, they send us letters after the camp and they just melt my heart. Those are my favorite years.
I could tell Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp stories all day. One year a boy won a BB gun. He already had one at home, so he offered it back to give away to another kid. One young man mowed lawns all summer to be able to buy a shotgun to give away to a kid. Several young people have sent me pictures of their first wild game harvests. Two brothers decided since they had already attended the camp twice, they would work as youth volunteers to free up spots for two other kids to attend the camp. One petite girly-girl dressed in pink with sparkles and a bow determined her dad needed to buy her a muzzleloader for her birthday. Another young man overcame his fear of guns. Another used skills he learned to save his family in a real-life survival situation. I would love to keep going!
So, no I don’t have just one favorite Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp. I have several. Each one of those humbled me and blessed me to see those kids’ hearts. The individual stories that reveal those hearts leaves me overwhelmed and forever changed.
Take Care & God Bless,