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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 7-16-2014

by Mark Walters

Another Victory for getting Kids Outdoors

Hello friends, 

Back in October of 2009, I was bow hunting in The Meadow Valley Wildlife Area and had my truck parked in a somewhat remote area. On the door of my truck was a sticker that had KAMO (Kids And Mentors Outdoors) on it. Little did I know that Onalaska math and science teacher, Mike Brown, had seen that sticker and wrote down, which was also on it. I am the President of KAMO and on the website is my phone number which Mike called and that is how we met.

 A month later, Mike attended a meeting of the Meadow Valley Chapter of KAMO at New Lisbon, joined that chapter and told us on night one that he wanted to start a KAMO chapter in LaCrosse.

Back in July of 2012, I met with Mike and a few other people in LaCrosse for what would be the first meeting of the Coulee Chapter of KAMO. As with the prior four chapters of KAMO and the next after Coulee (Chippewa, Eau Claire), I witnessed how hard it is to get enough mentors together to create a core group and actually make a difference locally on introducing kids to the outdoors through one on ones and group events.

This week one of the things that I am writing about is an event that the Coulee Chapter hosted for 11 kids in the hill country southwest of LaCrosse, where they taught birding, geocaching and fly fishing and put on a lunch.

I was just an observer during this event and it was awesome to watch what was once just a dream in this column.

Tim Collins is a retired physics instructor from WTC and taught the birding class, and in the fall will lead a group deer hunt and camping trip. I know very little about songbirds and it was really cool to walk through the woods and listen to the birds and have Tim identify and tell the kids a bit about each bird.

My buddy, Mike Brown taught the geocaching class, which is how to find something with a compass that has been hidden in a forest or field. Last spring, at our state meeting in Stevens Point, Mike told us that along with hunting and fishing The Coulee Chapter were going to teach kids on non-harvest outdoor activities, and I am 100 percent behind that decision.

The Coulee Chapter received two very respectable awards this year. One was from the Mississippi Valley Conservancy and that was the “Outstanding Youth Group of the Year” award. The other was from the LaCrosse County Conservation Alliance and it was their “Outstanding Club” award.

In a different setting last fall, Dave Carlson did an excellent show with these guys where they were teaching kids how to duck hunt on the Mississippi River. That show is on our website and it is truly entertaining.

Today, a potential KAMO mentor Jim Getter, who is a retired restaurant owner from Stevens Point, and now is a trout-fishing guide for the Driftless Angler, taught these kids how to fly fish and I was very impressed with both Jim’s skills and his ability to work with kids.

Each year, I have to make a decision on who will be the recipient of “The Presidents Award” for what I see as one of the most active people in KAMO, that makes a difference on a broad scale. This past year, Mike Brown shared that award with Jim Kurz, who is our State Secretary and seems to be constantly doing something with kids in the Ladysmith area (Indianhead Chapter).

On the 12th of July the Northwood’s Chapter (Florence) will be hosting their annual Hooked on Fishing event where they provide a day of fishing, a lunch, and a pole for each kid that shows up to take home.

On July 21st, at my hometown high school of Poynette, in the lunch room at 7:00 p.m. several of us will be hosting an informal get together to start what I believe will be KAMO’s 8th chapter or possibly 9th as we are working on another one in Green Bay, where they are having their second meeting on the 14th.

I will be at Poynette and hope to see a bunch of friends and family as well as new friends.

Folks it’s happening, KAMO is going to become a force in getting our Wisconsin kids back into the outdoors, we need you!  Sunset