by Mark Walters
KAMO “Tradition Forward”
This week’s column is about a day in the lives of the five KAMO “Kids And Mentors Outdoors” chapters in Wisconsin.
Saturday, February 23rd
High 26, low 14
Today I was supposed to be on Florence Counties, Lake Emily helping The Northwood’s Chapter of KAMO on what would have been a huge project. Together, with the support of Jay Glime, the owner of a local mill who donated enough 6x6x8foot hemlock timbers this chapter was going to build 20 fish cribs and host a fishery for local kids.
A local logger, Gordy McClain had hauled the timbers to a boat landing on Lake Emily and KAMO members and DNR employees had been preparing them for a couple of days for the big project.
Bad luck struck in a heavy way when two-feet of snow sunk the ice, two plow trucks became stuck plowing the snow off the ice and there was six-inches of water on the ice.
A truly heart breaking decision was made to cancel the big day which would have been this chapters 3rd year of fish crib building. Instead of building cribs, 18 loads of timber were stored for next winters project.
Instead of driving 240 miles, my plan changed to driving 15 and heading over to The Meadow Valley Chapters (New Lisbon/Necedah/Mauston) annual fisheree, which is held on our good friend Leo Moraveks property that is on backwaters of the Lemonweir River.
Fourteen kids, and several adults enjoyed a day of fishing; a fish fry on the ice, and snowballs fights, as well as wrestling, and hide and seek in the nearby river bottoms.
The fish fry that was hosted by this chapter was flawless, as good as any restaurant, and to be perfectly honest, I was just as impressed to see these girls and boys entertain themselves in the great outdoors as I would have been had they caught a boat load of fish.
Meanwhile, KAMO member Anthony Larson, who is a LaCrosse area fishing guide and a member of our newest chapter, The Coulee Chapter, was doing what I love to see and that was partaking in a “one on one” with 12-year-old Zach Schmidt. Anthony and Zach spent a half of a day tip up fishing for northern pike on the Mississippi River. The Coulee Chapter is one-year-old and the sky is the limit for how large this chapter could eventually become.
Over in Sauk County my friends that run The Baraboo River Chapter were holding a fisheree on a private pond where last summer members of this chapter had some really good success. Today, the fish were not hungry as is often the case when fishing in late February.
Two members of the Indianhead Chapter, which is based in the Ladysmith area, Donna Wishowski and Jim Kurz had hopped on board a huge fisheree that was held by the Ladysmith Lions Club and WRA “Wildlife Restoration Association”. The Indianhead Chapter had paid the $10.00 entry fee for six kids and from what I hear this event was incredible as 350 fishing poles were given away to kids and the day was filled with snow sculpturing, snow shoe races, and a host of other events.
As you can see, KAMO (www.kamokids.org) is all over the map in Wisconsin and trying to get kids into the outdoors in a variety of ways.
On Sunday, I was pulling into my driveway and I received a very important phone call. It was from George Meyer who was the Secretary of The Department of Natural Resources from 1993 to 2001. George is currently the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, which represents 182 outdoor organizations throughout Wisconsin. My new pal and I have been comparing notes for the last five days and he is impressed with KAMO.
George Meyer has been watching KAMO and yesterday joined our organization and will be at our state meeting on March 23rd at Stevens Point and giving a talking on how he believes KAMO can grow and improve.
My buddy Jon Hilmer came up with our motto, which is “Tradition Forward”! One way or another we will and have been meeting that goal. If you want to start a chapter, get a kid into the outdoors or be a mentor, check out the website.
Be fun! Sunset
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Ormson’s SuperValu