In my blogs and magazine columns, I often try to encourage people to connect with youth and help engage them in hunting and fishing activities. Recently, I spent some time with a dad who believes in that message. Shawn Elliott is not only getting his two sons active in fishing, but he has also started an entire club geared towards youth fishing. I met Shawn when he was a parent dropping his oldest son off at the MOOD Day Camp about 5 years ago. Since then he has been extremely active getting kids outside and both of his kids have been returning campers as well as avid anglers.
Last week I was invited to The Anchor Bay Fishing Club (ABFC) meeting on Tuesday, November 13, 2018. It took place from 6:00 PM until 7:45 PM at the newest Cabela’s in Chesterfield. This club has been in operation since May and is geared towards middle and high school students in the Anchor Bay area of Michigan. The goal of the club is to connect kids who like to fish with other kids who have the same interest. The club also encourages peer-to-peer learning and instruction. The club hosts guest speakers who are professionals or accomplished in the angling community. Finally, the club provides fishing opportunities for the kids to practice what they have learned and to catch some fish.
I spoke with the group of about 30 students and parents about why conservation is important to hunting and fishing. I also spent some time talking about who MUCC is and what we do, as well as our youth summer camp. Some of the club members have previously attended the MOOD Summer camp and one of them gave a testimonial about what they enjoyed about their camp experience.
A speaker from the fishing department highlighting his background and giving the kids ideas about techniques and what tackle they should use for each species joined me at the meeting. The youth also had a chance to spend about 30 minutes buying new gear and equipment or making their Christmas lists.
In its first six months, the club has grown rapidly. Shawn is looking forward to continued growth and expanded fishing opportunities for the club members. It is great to see adults creating opportunities for kids to get out fishing. It is also great to see the engagement in the students who have a passion for fishing and have a mission to become better anglers and conservationists.