FWC teaches children how to fish at summer camps
The children of this state are the future of hunting and fishing. They are the ones who will become the next generation of sportsmen and continue the traditions we enjoy today.
To make sure these kids are introduced to fishing, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is holding summer fishing camps that will teach students how to be self-sufficient fishermen.
During these camps, the children go through a series of biology lessons that include the scientific procedures of fish dissection, how to determine the age of fish as well as scaling, skinning and filleting their catch. They learn fish facts that include fish identification, distinguishing characteristics, habitats, feeding preferences and bag limits.
Rod and reel assembly, cane pole use, tackle types, knot-tying, bait selections for specific species of fish, and catch-and-release techniques round out the fishing lessons. The students also receive boating safety information and get a tackle box of their own, which they use when they are taught how to fish from the bank and a boat.
The FWC surveys each camper before and after the program. All parents have agreed to have their child participate in this study, which includes revisiting the child throughout the year as part of efforts to document again that children who go through this program have increased self-esteem and made better grades in school.
One thing I want to emphasize here is that hunters and anglers helped pay for these fishing camps when they purchased their fishing and hunting licenses. Everyone who purchases a license has the opportunity to donate for the purpose of developing youth programs.
I am very proud of our dedicated staff who are making this happen, but the credit belongs to all the hunters and anglers who contributed. They are investing in the future of wildlife and fisheries conservation.
Unfortunately, many people don’t know about this program. I’ve spoken to people who admitted they declined to donate because they didn’t believe the money would be spent on youth programs. Folks agree that if they had known programs like ours would receive the money, they would have given.
These donated dollars are going to good use. Eight camps were held in June. Here are the dates and locations of the remaining camps:
• July 19-23 and July 26-30 – Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center (BTYCC) in Monticello.
• July 26-30 – Oldsmar, City of Oldsmar Parks and Recreation.
• July 26-30 and Aug. 9-13 – Ocala/Horseshoe Lake, Marion County Parks & Recreation.
There are spots available for campers at the BTYCC camps. The Oldsmar and Ocala camps have been filled.
For the $200 registration fee, kids between 9 and 15 years old get a week at the day camp, a rod and reel and a tackle box loaded with the things they’ll need to get started. To sign your child up for one of the camp sessions, call Rae Waddell at 850-933-4322.
To help support the camps, just say “yes” when a license vendor asks if you’d like to donate $5 to the FWC’s youth education programs.
Let’s make sure that our future fishermen get the chance to learn their craft.