Here is a fact I always hate to share because it’s a hard reality in my opinion…California hunter numbers have been drastically declining for 40 or more years now! Back in the 70’s there was a high (no pun intended) of nearly 700,000. Today there are less than 250,000 licensed hunters in our Golden State and you know the overall population hasn’t decreased any, making these stats hard to swallow.
Even if you are a non hunter and happened to stumbled across this blog post by accident, these numbers should concern you. Why? Because Sportsmen and women are the most passionate advocates as well as the biggest financial backers of wildlife conservation efforts. It is almost scary to think about where are public lands and wildlife populations might end up if our hunter numbers continually decline…
Ok, enough of the boo-hoo stuff, let’s turn this post in a more positive direction. Happily, there are a number of conservation based organizations within our outdoor industry that realize the significance of not only focusing on the conservation of our wildlife and their habitats, but the preservation of our hunting heritage as well. California Waterfowl Association is one organization who has committed resources to help promote and recruit not only children, but families to build their hunting and fishing knowledge and skills set and ultimately build a true love for the outdoors. One of CWA’s most successful hunter recruitment efforts is their Hunter Camp Program.
California Waterfowl Association hosts a variety of camps throughout the year within their Hunting Heritage Hunter Camp Program. Beginning Youth Aged Hunters, Advanced Youth Hunter Camps, even Women Only and Family Camps too, have engaged and recruited thousands of participants over the last few years. Last Summer I was fortunate enough to have been asked to help as an instruct
or at each of the 5-Day Beginning Hunter Camps at the CWA Grizzly Ranch Property in the Suisun Marsh and I look forward to my time helping at as many camps as I can again this year!
Each week 30-40 Kids will take on the challenge of learning the California Hunter Safety Course material, but these campers will learn the curriculum in a very unique way. Hunter Camp is all about hands-on activities like egg-salvage, duck banding, shooting, and archery activities that completely support the learning process behind the California Hunter Safety Course Curriculum and is a philosophy based on retaining 10% of what you hear, 20% of what you see and 60% of what you do. These Camps offer it all and the kids retain all this info while making lasting friendships and having a ton of fun too! I really can’t say enough about these camps. Plus, Level 2 Camps exist for beginning hunters who have already passed a hunter safety exam! These camps help build upon and further develop outdoor skills.
Post Update: July 11, 2019
So much time has flown by in-between the original publish date of this blog post and now. A lot has changed too and that is why I felt compelled to update this post!
It actually may be easier to start with what hasn’t changed. Like, first off, hunter numbers in California are sadly still on the decline. I have a blog post in the works to address this specifically so you’ll have to come back for a visit for more details on that, but this leads me to my second item of what has not changed since 2015. And that would be my love for these Youth Hunting Conservation Camps!!
And guess what, I no longer even work for Cal Waterfowl and I still think highly of their youth and family hunting camps! So technically, I am not being paid a dime to write this! Ha! So, I almost think that gives them even more credit! In all seriousness, I cannot say enough good things about the experience my Quinn had at a CWA Sprig Camp years ago. The confidence it gave her to apply her camp learned gun handling and shooting skills in the field has since been incredible to watch. We have been on several hunts since her weekend at camp several years ago, and I have watched her without uncertainty, safely and doubtlessly handle both her rifle and shotgun in some pretty darn high pressure situations. Including; duck hunts in dreadful storm conditions, an elk hunt that would have beat down the most athletic of hunters, as well as an antelope hunt that came together within seconds and such high angst!
I truly believe that the curriculum and hands on learning environment delivered at the CWA – Camp Sprig Youth Hunter Camps gave Quinn a solid foundation of confidence in her skills as a young and beginning hunter! As a parent, I still highly recommend these camps and as a participant, Quinn would give them a 5 star rating as well!
Don’t hesitate to sign your kiddos up! Whether its this summer or a camp in the future years, beginning camp or advanced hunter camps, you wont regret it and your camper will never forget it!! Check out the camps offered this summer on the California Waterfowl Association website. Rumor has it, that there are still spots available for Summer 2019 and within the next week they will be opening registration for their Fall Camps! Sign up asap. The spots do fill fast!
By the way, you can also check out the camp story Quinn wrote about her experience on this past post: A Camp to Remember!
P.S. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or question below! I am happy to answer any questions you might have!