At The Camp

What Its Like

The weather forecast was a good one, especially after the torrential rains of the first weekend in June. This much needed rain was a blessing for North Central Montana, but the YTC planners hoped the rain would subside prior the next weekend. Trappers operate in all weather conditions, so a little rain would not dampen the spirits of the 150 plus campers that were registered to come to the 2002 Tri-Agency Youth Trapper Camp, but sunshine would help to make it successful.

The camp attendees started rolling in late Thursday evening. The YTC staff decided if you come early, you must want to do some work! Skip Olson from Idaho and Frank Madsen, Helena MT were quickly asked if they would be willing to take on the task of organizing the tents and campers as they arrived. With placement maps in hand they started designating where the campers and tents would set up. Other early arrivals were helping unload food, paper products, tables and chairs. Still others were given the task of erecting the canopy tent which would be used for a "mess tent" and some classes.

Friday morning brought a beehive of activity to the YTC campsite in Beaver Creek Park South of Havre MT. Registration was handled by Fran Buell, Camp Coordinator, and Judy Vosen RN, Camp Nurse. Camp attendees were checked in, given class folders and T-shirts by Melissa Kohn, then directed to Skip or Frank so they could setup their tents or campers. Those youth coming on their own were shown where they would "bunk down" during camp.

While all this was happening outside, the cooks, Jim Buell, Tom Buell and Bob Vosen were cooking dinner in the cabin. As the afternoon turned to evening - the aroma of BBQ chicken and ribs permeated the air. When the dinner bell rang, the chow line was stretching from the cabin door, across the bridge to the canopy tent.

After dinner, a very informative and entertaining class on trapping equipment was given by Scot Dahms MTA Education Instructor from Glasgow. When the class was finished, the two campfires were lit and as campfires have a tendency to do, people started to gather around them, chatting and getting to know each other. Late registration and camp set up stretched into the night as the 3rd Annual Youth Trapper Camp settled in. The next morning would come early with a flag ceremony, after which breakfast would be served then the exciting and educational classes about trapping would begin.

Saturday morning brought beautiful weather and a promise of a busy day. The class instructors were in the chosen class sites, the class bell rang, the "camp families" (beaver, mink, otter, etc.) gathered around the "family" chaperone for a head count, then proceeded to their classes. The classes included ethics, health, furbearer ID and regulations, survival and compass class, in addition to predator call, snare and stretcher construction, skinning, predator calling, baits and lures. Saturday afternoon, those youth attending for the second and third year, with instructors and chaperones, buckets filled with traps, shovels, sifters and other trapping equipment left to put some traps and snares out on private land where permission to trap had been secured. There were high hopes that Sunday morning a "critter" would be caught.

Saturday of the camp is an intensive day, filled with a lot of information. Youth and adults are busy all day learning about the different aspects of trapping. Everyone was fed a delicious supper of meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, corn and cake for dessert. After supper were a couple hours of free time where adults and young people could relax, visit or climb Mount Otis if they chose to. The camp was pretty quiet at 10:00 p.m. as the campers retired from their fun-filled day. Sunday brought a breakfast of ham, eggs, pancakes, and fruit, then off to check traps or attend final classes. When the final bell for assembly rang, there were no "critters" to show from the trap line, but there was smiles all around as the campers awaited the presentation of Trapper Ed Certificates of Completion, take-home packets of books, magazines, and awards.

The first item on the agenda was the drawing for a rifle donated by MTA member Wes Plann, Terry MT. The process for the drawing involved each camp attendee sending in a raffle authorization form with registration. This form was given a number starting with # 1, then a small ticket with just a number on it was put into the raffle can. The lucky winner of the rifle was Brittany Minear from Hardin MT.

Each youth camper received a trap which were donated by John Hughes, Roundup MT and Terry Montgomery, Ogden UT.

After awards, lunch was served. The cooks received a huge round of applause for the excellent meals they had prepared during the weekend.

Tents were taken down, campers hooked up to vehicles, good-byes were said and Mooney Coulee Road was again busy with traffic, this time leaving the site of YTC 2002.

The success of the Youth Trapper Camp could not have happened without the help from instructors, parents attending, youth attending, volunteers, Montana 4-H, Montana Dept. of FWP, Montana Trappers Association and those individuals and business that donated to the camp. With over 45 already on a waiting list for YTC 2003, there is no doubt that people want to learn more about trapping, the inherent heritage of Montana.