When you reminisce back on your childhood and those memorable summer camps, they usually involved organized group activities, water slides, bunk beds, finding your independence, meeting new friends and maybe falling in puppy love for the first time. I’m not going to say those experiences aren’t important, but I just experienced another type of summer camp that blew those traditional camps out of the water! Raise ‘Em Outdoors Camp is on another level! At REO camp, kids 3-17, accompanied by their families, have the opportunity to spend a weekend learning about hunting, fishing and conservation. The campers rotate through various age appropriate stations including .22/bb gun shooting, trap shooting, long range shooting, trout fishing, and archery. Unlike traditional summer camps, the cost is only $25 for campers to attend and the Saturday night BBQ is included. Families don’t have to break the bank for their children to learn valuable life skills at REO Camp.
Much of the hunting industry is debating what to do about falling hunter numbers, but one organization is skipping the debate and diving into the solution.
Raise ‘Em Outdoors is a nonprofit organization that is getting thousands of kids and parents outside, many of which for the first time. Raise ‘Em Outdoors' nationwide camps are a multi-day experience, teaching youth archery, angling, safe firearms practices, ethical hunting and how their actions can impact conservation efforts.
When I first asked if i could contribute to this special and meaningful cause, I asked Erin if there was anything specific that needed to be covered. As always and with a pure heart she replied, “It’s about getting the kids back outdoors.” Raise Em’ Outdoors has, in its own sense, opened doors to my own family. In this unpredictable and at times, unforgiving world we live in, I grew accustomed to sheltering my three boys, Ages 9, 7, and 5. Out of my own fears of what was beyond my front door. i lost touch as a parent that if we do not teach our children about the beautiful world that exists before them, they would never grow into their proper skin as an important part of this planet. Away from the views of city skylines and busy industrial cities, lies the true picture of the environment around us. From the smooth, cascading lines of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, to the serene and calm lakes in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska where bevies of Trumpeter Swans call home. These are the places where nature and humanity once shared the most pure and beneficial form of symbiosis. Millions of years of evolution and technological advancement have diluted that time space into something foreign. Luckily for us, some realize that this should and MUST change. To teach ourselves that we ultimately are responsible for presenting the outdoors to our children and providing them with the necessary knowledge to survive in case of need. But more importantly, IT’S FUN TO BE OUTSIDE! So get your little ones out there! Let them smell that fresh air. Let them feel the grass under their feet and the sand through their toes. Teach them how to fish, how to hunt, and how to stay warm. Pass on the knowledge put before us by our ancestors. Help pass this through your children and into the future, knowing in full confidence that you did your part.
Blessings to All,
"It's apparent that kids aren't getting outdoors like they used to. As a kid, I lived for the days my family would go camping. I would spend hours on the lakeshore catching frogs and tadpoles, fishing, and swimming. We weren't glued to a television all day, and we didn't have tablets or cellphones. It's no wonder the number of hunters are declining. So, what is happening? Can families not afford the hunting and fishing lifestyle? Is there a lack of knowledge or teachers? Are we failing our younger generations? There are plenty of reasons or excuses for it, but it comes down to how we move forward and we can start by teaching our kids about the outdoors. This is where, organizations like Raise 'Em Outdoors, are important"
If you are headed to SHOT Show this coming year don't miss out on the Moose on The Loose 5k, hosted MondayJanuary 22, 2018, by Julie McQueen and Jimmy Herman. This is the 3rd annual race! You simply sign up by donating to one of the charitable partners of Moose On The Loose 5k. This year we are humbled to be one of those partners! So to promote fun, wellness, and getting kids outdoors go sign up today and join us in Vegas to kick off SHOT show with a fun run.
Check out our latest interview with guys from Go Wild. Then check out this great outdoors app and download it your phone. There isn't another app out there like it!
Justin with Hunting Product Guru recently made a video that talked about when he had his first son, he immediately started dreaming of the day he could teach his son to fish. It's something many of us can relate to—a desire to teach our kids the same way of life that our parents and grandparents taught us. But some kiddos aren't so fortunate, and they don't have the gear to hunt, or the person in their life to teach them. That's what Erin Crooks is trying course correct with her nonprofit, Raise Em Outdoors. When you talk to Erin, you can feel her enthusiasm for this lifestyle. She's incredibly passionate about her organization, and what it can do for kids, not only in her state of Virginia, but nationwide. We recently caught up with her to talk about her own hunting and fishing, as well as Raise 'Em Outdoors...... CLICK LINK BELOW TO READ MORE!!
There are many ways to help at Raise Em Outdoors and WE NEED YOU! REO consists of a small team with big goals. Within the next year we have big plans;
- Hosting at the least 6 youth outdoor camps across the Nation. Two days and two nights. Teaching kids archery, rifle shooting, fishing, fly fishing, conservation, hunting education, and all about the wildlife that exists in the region they live in.
- Starting a free membership program for kids that keeps them involved in the outdoors year round.
- Opening a mentor program for our members who want to get into hunting or fishing and are in need of guidance from an adult.
- Giving away youth hunts and guided fishing trips.
- Continuing to outfit as many kids possible with any outdoor gear they need. From fishing rods, tackle, hunting clothes, boots, bows, you name it. If we can find a way to get a kid what they need we will.
REO is looking for help. Whether it’s volunteer for a future summer camp, host a fundraiser banquet, becoming a regular monetary donator, starting a collection box at your local outdoor store or taking off your hands all of that outdoor gear in your garage. There are many ways to get involved. If you would like to help you can reach Erin and firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s get the next generation outdoors! Preserve our wildlife and help raise the next generation the way we have been doing since the beginning of time. but seems to beslowly fading away from us.
Around a year ago, a good friend of mine sat down with me to talk to me about making a change in peoples lives and starting with kids. We talked about kids camps and about my idea to start Raise Em Outdoors, but it took a good 6 months longer before I did anything. I thought about it every single day though. This last Christmas I started with my donation program, still always thinking about the camps. Finally I decided I needed to do them, I started to talk about it to friends. I was then introduced to a member with the Mule Deer Foundation. He talked to me about all of the kids programs he had been involved in and very confidently let me know, that my idea for these youth camps could become a reality. Fast forward a few months I had been introduced to another member of the MDF, Ken Hand, who offered to bring his shooting trailer down for the camp and help me plan this event. I then spent the next few months with a good friend, Maria Taylorworking out the rest of the details for the FREE youth camp.
In 3 short months we managed to put together an outdoor camp for kids age 3-17. Offering rifle shooting, archery, and fishing lessons. Hosting two days at the Big K Ranch in Elton, Oregon. Parents brought there kids to a large camp placed on the river banks of the ranch. The families were offered a free camping spot, dinner provided each night, and skill set instructions on all the outdoor sports we hoped to help these kids learn more about.
One of my main goals with Raise Em Outdoors was to also help parents get more involved with their kids outdoors. We made this camp a camp for the whole family. This wasn’t your typical drop off Summer camp. When introducing your kids to the outdoors, knowing some families were not into any hunting, fishing, or shooting themselves, we wanted them to learn along with their kids. Getting outdoors not only teaches kids patience, appreciation , hard work, and love for the wild where we began, but bringing parents and their kids together outdoors makes for memories you can’t create any where else. That they can take home and continue to do together after the camp.
We had around 100 people total at the camp with volunteers included. For two days instructors led theses kids along the river banks catching fish, learning to cast fly rods, and learning about the species that were in the river with them as they waded out to keep cool during the lessons. Their fishing guides came from as far as Montana, and from the local Project Healing Waters Crew. PHW brought out their vets to in turn teach the kids anything from casting fly rods to catching craw dads. Watching these vets and guides spend an entire day in 90 plus degree weather teaching kids and parents both all about fishing and with a smile on their face the whole time was one of my favorite parts of the camp.
They also spent time learning to shoot archery and perfecting their form and learning the skills of shooting a bow, then moving on to the air rifle station getting used to shooting a gun before moving on to .22 single shot Cricket rifles. All the while with their parents helping and observing their kids as they got those huge smiles after hitting a bullseye. Day two we had a friendly shooting competition at each station that seemed to really get everyone having fun.
All the families took a break around 3 PM to swim in the river or head further down the long river banks of the Big K Ranch to fish more before the catered dinner event. Each night we gathered together for dinner together, so families could get together and get to know each other better. While kids ran around with their new friends. Campers all camped together on one side of the camp and the volunteers on the other so that we could regroup and plan out the next days events.
At the end of camp we had a fun giveaway of prizes to the sharp shooters and the best little fisherman. Kids faces lit up as they won and everyone clapped for them. One little boy in particular who won a Genesis bow, was all smiles. Not long before the camp, his house was broken into and his bow was stolen from him. Moments like that make you feel good, after spending an entire weekend running around making sure things are running smooth and everyone is doing ok. It washed away all the stress I had on my shoulders that weekend. From hosting my first ever youth event.
I learned a lot with this event and I can’t wait to improve the camps to make the best outdoor experience for these kids in the future.
Thank you to the M.U.L.E.Y foundation for helping us with our shooting stations, to Project Healing Waters for bringing their lead fishing guide for the Umpqua River and all the vets who donated their time to volunteer to teach these kids all weekend. Thank you to all our amazing archery instructors, shooting instructors, and fishing instructors who all traveled from near and as far as Montana and Texas to come help me put on this camp for the kids. Your faith in me to put this on and come help these kids all weekend long. I know made a lasting impression on many kids and parents this last weekend. Without all of you and all the families who are wanting to get their kids into the outdoors more, we couldn't do what we do. The future of our outdoors and the future of our next generation depends on amazing people like all of you.