In 2005, my wife Katy, who is a school teacher, came home from school one day and told me that there were two kids in her school and their dad had been put in prison. She told me that she’d signed them up for some youth hunting camp named the Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp, and she wanted me to take them to the camp and then take them both deer hunting.
What? I don’t want to sound self-centered, but the camp is held the first Saturday in May. Spring in Idaho is a flurry of outdoor activities. It’s the ultimate for the outdoorsman. Bear hunting is hot, turkey hunting is on, crappie are going ballistic, whistle pigs are coming out in the droves and the morels are popping up. I about died.
Well, I was stuck. The day came and we headed up to the little mountain town of Emmett, Idaho, where the camp was being held. Whoa, this was going to be a big event. The kids were divided into six groups and rotate to the six different stations. In between stations, seminars are conducted. This camp was awesome. I had to help with this deal.
Fast forward 15 years. The camp has grown and we had to go to an online registration. Last year, it filled up with 260 kids in 47 seconds. In a nutshell, here’s how it runs. The kids show up and even though they’re preregistered, they still sign in. They’re given a bracelet that signifies which one of the six groups that they’re in and given a bag filled with goodies donated by various companies. For instance, Swab-ITS gives them some gun cleaning swabs, MyTopoMaps gives them coupons for maps and Blue Lizard gives them a package of sun screen.
The Pledge of Allegiance is said, many times led by an enlisted serviceman about to head out for duty. A prayer is then given by a local pastor and it’s off to the races. Group one starts at the shotgun station, group two at the .22 range, group three at the blackpowder range, group four at the archery range, group five at the knife-sharpening/gun-cleaning station and group six at the survival station.
After the allotted time for that session is over, they gather in the commons area for a seminar put on by a pro-staff member. The seminars are excellent. There are some top-notch presenters like Rockie Jacobsen the owner of Rocky Mountain Game Calls who puts on the elk & turkeys calling seminars and Fowl Weather Custom Calls puts on a waterfowl calling seminar.
After the seminar they rotate to their next station. At noon, volunteers serve lunch to the kids. Due to local donations and volunteer help the kids eat free and have snacks throughout the day. A local donut shop, HeBrews Coffee sets up a donut trailer. I love their sugar/cinnamon donuts.
There’s a raffle table set up that helps fund the camp. At the end of the day is the kid’s drawing. Every kid wins a prize. And I don’t mean a rinky dink Chinese finger pulling gizmo. Last year there were 25 guns, 10 bows, backpacks, knives, etc., given away.
I hesitate to list the generous sponsors since there is no way that I can include them all. Riton Optics, Knives of Alaska, Smith’s Consumer Products, Spyderco, Otis, Swab-It’s, Birchwood Casey, Adventure Medical Kits, MyTopoMaps, Buck Knives, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Blue Lizard and the list goes on and on.
I know it’s business and companies do it for advertisement, but I’m touched by the generosity of the outdoor world. The kids get to attend this all-day camp for free due to the generosity of all the volunteers and sponsors.
Some of the lucky kids draw a hunt. Volunteers take them elk, deer and duck hunting. Where was SYHC when I was a kid?
I finally figured out why Scott McGann aka Scooter is so passionate and developed this camp. If it hadn’t of been for his grandad, him and his brother probably would have never ended up being the sportsmen that they are today. He originally drew up the camp to help single mom’s but couldn’t very well disallow kids with two parents to attend.
I do 50 to 60 seminars and shows per year from Texas to Vegas on up to Alaska. This is the coolest event I participate in all year.
It might be a five-hour drive but you ought to think about enrolling your kid in the camp. Registration is April 1, and you can register here: scootersyouthhunting.camp. Your kid would love it!
Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.