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An Outdoorsmans Journal – 7-31-2013

by Mark Walters

KAMO Kids on the Buckhorn

Hello friends,

About 30 people from the Florence, Ladysmith, and Wisconsin Dells area started KAMO (Kids And Mentors Outdoors) back in 2007. I guess you could say I had the idea and I spread the word through this column.

 We take kids on outdoor experiences, that may sound simple, and it certainly has merit, but it takes a lot of personal time. KAMO has grown to about 90 people in five chapters, and we have added two more since 2007.

This week I am going to write about a really cool trip that I was able to participate in with twelve KAMO kids and seven mentors. What we did was camp for three-days at a boat to campsite at Buckhorn State Park on Castle Rock Flowage.

Friday, July 19th

High 80 low 55

I have a confession; I only live about five miles from Castle Rock Flowage. Yet I spend very little time on it, my travels keep me on the go, and I get my outdoor fix while on them. This weekend I would learn what a really cool flowage and what an awesome state park Buckhorn is (I have spent time at both, just not much).

Here is the scenario; my buddy Aaron Bigalke met myself and four kids at a boat landing. At about the same time, Jody Bigalke was heading towards camp with his pontoon boat loaded with kids and gear.

Jody Bigalke would spend the weekend taking kids fishing in his pontoon boat, as well as, on pleasure rides. Jody also brought along a jon boat that he has rigged up for carp shooting (that plan did not work out to well as this weekend as the water was very stained, which made for tough visibility)

I took a rather unconventional but fun way to camp, I trailed a tube behind my very loaded 16-foot boat and my daughter Selina and her friend Jenna Bistodeau had a slow but pleasant ride to paradise.

When we arrived at camp, KAMO mentors Jeff Neitzel, Jim Rydmark, Janine Bigalke, and Dan Shultz had camp set up and Janine, who would be our head cook, had supper on the table. We all know how it takes some ambition to cook supper for a family of four at home, now think about cooking for 19 while camping. Janine and Aaron Bigalke took that bull by the horns and did an excellent job.

Towards dark, Jody took some of the kids fishing and I had a blast being the all time quarterback for a game of football in the water where the girls played the boys. The girls destroyed the boys, and it was a blast to watch. “I would highly suggest that Necedah’s football coach, Eric Mach, recruits Jamie Bistodeau to be a linebacker for the Cardinals this fall. Even though one of our boys was a 180-pounds he had no problem admitting he was scared of a 15-year-old gal that has been on more KAMO trips than any other kid in all of KAMO.

In KAMO, we take kids that come from any type of home, our goal is to get kids outdoors, it doesn’t matter if your parents make a million bucks a year or $5000.00.

We have one boy, by the name of Zach Bennet, who has been traveling with The Meadow Valley Chapter for three years and it is always a pleasure to watch this very quiet boy open up as the weekend progresses. At first it seems difficult to get Zach off a lawn chair. All it took was for Jody Bigalke to take him fishing, and for Zach to catch his first catfish, and just like that it was swimming “some canoeing” and, of course, Ghosts in the Graveyard after dark.

The following day we used 8-canoes, Jody Bigalkes flat bottom boat, and went on about a three-hour canoe trip. Jody traps this flowage and made sure that he took the kids in what he called some “scenic country”. I recall one time when he was idling by some stragglers he asked if they were getting tired. The boys replied that they were and Jody let them know they were only half way done, in other words we like to see kids go for it here in KAMO Country.

We took a break on our adventure and played some football on a beautiful July day and it was like any other KAMO trip I have been on. We had a crew of kids from four different towns and many social structures, but they had all become a group of one and all of them were having a blast.

The following day we said goodbye, it rained on my boat tour back to the truck, and in closing I can proudly say that tonight I am going to a meeting in Eau Claire in which we will be starting our sixth chapter of KAMO. I am predicting solid growth for this organization ( over the next 20 years. We could use you or your kids; we will help start a chapter in your community if we see enough interest.

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