Mar 13, 2024
By Smith's

Every year I conduct 40-60 seminars at various outdoor shows, stores and events all the way from Texas to Vegas and on up to Alaska. But one of the most fulfilling and fun events I get to participate in is Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp. It’s a cool deal.

To show how popular it is, last year it filled up with 250 kids in 49 seconds. Wow, that’s unbelievable.

Scott McGann started it to help single moms with their kids. He knew that without a dad in the family, the chances were slim for their kids to be able to get into the outdoor world unless they got some help.

It’s a topic that is near and dear to him. If it wasn’t for his grandad, he and his brother wouldn’t have ever been introduced to the outdoors. Consequently, Scott is a hard-core outdoorsman.

My first camp was in 2005. My wife, who is a schoolteacher, came home from school one day and told me that she’d signed up two kids in her school with a kids hunting camp named Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp.

I about died. Springtime in Idaho is magical. We have awesome bear hunting, whistle pig hunting, turkey hunting, crappie fishing and mushroom hunting. But no amount of whining would change things, I was stuck. But after that first year I have been a helper every year since. It’s the coolest outdoor event that I do all year and it just keeps getting better. It’s one of the most fulfilling outdoor events of my year.

Here’s how the event works. Years ago, kids mailed in their registrations. As time passed the camp had to go to an online registration to keep it organized.

It is always the first Saturday in May. Some years the weather is perfect; one year it was cold, rainy and windy, I mean really windy. And some years it has been scorching hot. But, get over it. Weather is a part of the outdoors. Not all trips are on bluebird sunny days.

Saturday morning the kids all get in line to get signed in. They are divided into six groups and given color-coded bracelets. Next we say the Pledge of Allegiance and then a local pastor says a prayer. Then it’s off to the races.

Group one will start at the trap throwing station, group two at the .22 range, group three at the black powder range, group four the Archery range, group five the knife sharpening/gun cleaning station and group six to the survival station.

After their session, the kids gather in the meeting area (chairs are set up in front of the podium for them to set). A seminar will be conducted by a Pro-staff member, then they will go to session two and repeat throughout the day. I love the seminars. They’re informative and I always learn new hunting techniques.

The seminar instructors aren’t newbies. We’re talking people like Rockie Jacobsen with Rocky Mountain Calls (his son Cory is an eight-time world champion elk caller), The Carp Cartel, and the list goes on. At lunch they all convene for a great lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers cooked by volunteers. Lunch is free for the kids thanks to an unbelievable response from local businesses.

After lunch, the kids keep hitting the stations until completed and then comes up Scott’s favorite time: The Kids Raffle! Due to local businesses and all manner of outdoor companies, items have been donated for the kids drawing. There are some super cool prizes. Bows, backpacks, hunts, fishing trip and the list goes on.

I can’t even begin to list all of the companies that donate items. Knives of Alaska, Smith Consumer Products, Umarex Airguns, Otis, Birchwood Casey, Spyderco, Swab-its, MyTopoMaps, Shoot NC targets….It’s a long, long list. It’s a good day to be a kid!

A fun deal for the adults is the raffle table. There are all kinds of cool items on the table and all of the proceeds go to support the camp. It’s a first-rate camp and all the kids get to go free due to donations and volunteer help. There’s not one person that is on paid staff. I like that.

While on that topic, I see a lot of causes that start off for a good reason but then it ends up someone(s) tries to turn it into a money-making profession. I understand how that happens. You think this doesn’t take a lot of time? We start having camp meetings in January. Then there’s all the legwork getting donations and things set up. I understand how someone wants to turn it into a profession, but I think they tend to lose the pureness of the goal in the process.

This year the camp is on May 4. Don’t trust me on steering you correctly on registration. The kid has to be 9-16 years old on May 4. Registration is at 10 a.m. April 1.

A few more camp meetings, and then it’s GAME ON! I can’t wait.