REACH OUTDOORS: KIDS OUT TRAPPING!
by Shaun McKeon, MUCC Education Director
After reading an article by my Co-worker Tony Hansen in Outdoor Life Magazine, on a trapping program that is taking place in Wisconsin and the fantastic work they are doing with youth (see article here). I decided to highlight the fur harvesting program we run at camp.
The furbearer program is one of our newer camps and has been taking place for the last three summers. It has grown over the years and was our largest program during the week it was offered last summer. During the 2nd year (my first season) there were 10 kids registered for the program and during the 2014 season we had 18 participants.
As with all of our themes at camp the program is designed to get kids out and learning the ropes. Last year they worked closely with Michigan Trapper and Predator Callers President Dale Hendershot. Dale had the kids out in the field each day learning about the different types of traps, sets, and techniques. Two years ago under the guidance of Dale and John Caretti the kids were able to skin a beaver and several raccoons. They went through the drying process and throughout the week played a part in working the pelts. In 2014, muskrat was the popular animal and the youth skinned them with supervision from Dale. On top of becoming familiar with the traps and what happens after you catch an animal, the youth also are able to learn special tips that Dale has picked up over the years. One of the popular tips was, “raccoons love marshmallows and they work good as bait in certain situations.” The campers joked they hoped they would catch a counselor using marshmallows as bait.
On top of their field time the participants spend time learning and studying the material to pass the Michigan trappers exam. By taking part in this program at camp the participants are able to become certified trappers in the state of Michigan, as well as their Michigan hunter safety card.
For all of our campers over the last two years this program was something brand new to them. None of the campers had previous experience trapping. It is great to see the sport of trapping beginning to increase in participation numbers and we believe that programs like the one running at camp are the starting point to keep this trend heading up.
In the past we ran this program for our 9-11 year old age groups really focusing on introducing the younger campers to trapping. This year we decided to make a change and offer the theme to an older age of campers ranging from 12-14 in the hopes of the older campers being more able to continue trapping once they leave camp.
Campers who participate in this program come away with an increased knowledge about all of the hard work that goes into running a trap line, but they are often inspired by how rewarding the sport can be and the kids smiles show the feeling of success they get when one of their traps works.
For the 2015 camp season our furharvesters camp will be running July 12th-17th. If you know a youngster between 12-14 years old who wants to get into the sport of trapping you can check out our camp page for more details. Mucc.org/camp
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