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July Means Summer Camp

Even before the smoke cleared the young camper at one of Nebraska 4-H’s Outdoor Skills Camp declared it “the coolest thing ever!”  Which was immediately followed by “did I hit?”  She had just taken her first-ever shot with a black powder rifle, sending the round ball clanging into the triangular, metal gong 30 yards downrange.

Instructor Dealey helps a camper sight-in

The tradition of summer camps is alive and well in the state of Nebraska.  And for a few hundred youngsters each year camp means making some smoke with muzzleloaders, catching a fish, flinging some arrows, breaking some blue rock and learning about wildlife from Nebraska Game and Parks Staff and instructors.  Several of these are made possible by partners such as the Nebraska 4-H Camping Centers and Camp Oasis south of Firth, NE.

“The shooting skills camps we hold are some of our more popular offerings,” says Lindsay Shearer Camp Operations Coordinator for Nebraska 4-H.  There is still a strong interest among youth in outdoor skills because of our state’s traditions.”

They are also good, ol’fashion fun, too, as the campers get to spend the week of camp onsite, in cabins, at some great locations.  From the historic hand-planted forest near Halsey, to the rolling hills of the Platte River valley these are summer camps in the truest form.

There may be no better place for those 11 to 15 years old to dive into Nebraska’s wildlife, fishing, conservation and the shooting sports hands-on and in-depth than a summer camp that features Game and Parks educators, certified Hunter Education Instructors, Fishing Mentors and 4-H trained coaches.

“These camps provide a safe and comfortable setting for getting to know all the opportunities that exist for them in this state as they learn and improve life skills,” Shearer adds.  But it doesn’t just stop there with the knowledge of how things work.  For some it is opens a whole new part of themselves according to Shearer.  “Campers come away with a greater sense of respect and responsibility towards their involvement in these activities.  As well as improving their ability to be independent and enhancing their own perceptions of themselves”

The campers just see it all as having fun – which it is, even for the several volunteers and staff that make it possible.  For many of the instructors that help at the camps each year it is a chance to not only give back but a chance to have some fun, too.  The smiles on their faces can be bigger than the campers at times.

Instructor Niemoth helps two campers with a muzzleloader

As we flip the calendar to month of July some camps have already taken place, but there are still a few chances to get your youngster into one with camps taking place three out of the five weeks in July.  You can check out the opportunities at the Game and Parks website www.OutdoorNebraska.org

These camps are so much fun many adults feel there should be outdoor skills camps in the summer for us, too.


About Aaron Hershberger

Aaron "hershy" Hershberger is an Outdoor Education Specialist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He loves being outdoors. When not outdoors he is day-dreaming about being outdoors and/or whining that he is not outdoors. Hershy has been a Hunter Education Instructor, in two states, for nearly three decades & a Bowhunter Education Instructor for over 20 years.

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