Stephanie Rustem, Camp Assistant Director
Have you ever been excited for a new experience, but were a little unsure of what to expect? For many campers this week, the answer to this question would be a resounding, “YES!” Not only did many of the campers come to camp for the first time, many of them have never had the opportunity to experience the outdoors quite like they have at camp.
Many campers this week came to us as Riley Wilderness Youth Camp scholarship recipients. The Riley Scholarship program was established by SCI-Novi Chapter Member George F. Riley in order to increase youth participation in the outdoors. Youth were selected to receive scholarships based on 4 criteria: 1) they have limited experience hunting and in the outdoors, 2) they lack financial resources to attend a conservation education program, 3) they do not have a mentor to expose them to the outdoors, or 4) they do not possess a hunter safety card.
Campers learned how to fish, played predator-prey games, and tried their hands at shooting sports. One camper even expressed that hitting the red zone on the archery target for the first time was better than 7 hours of video games at home. That’s what camp is all about—helping kids connect with nature through fun outdoor experiences.
This week we also welcomed the Safari Club International who shared their Sensory Safari trailer with us. The mobile outdoor education center features a wide variety of animal mounts and pelts for children to touch. These hands-on experiences help campers understand animal adaptations and help increase their desire to assume their role as land stewards and conservationists.
We are sad to say goodbye to this week’s batch of campers, but hope that their camp experiences will have a lasting impact on their lives and enjoyment of the outdoors.