by Michael Schraeder
Last weekend, our White River Trout Unlimited Chapter hosted its 5th Annual Youth Camp at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery next to Dry Run Creek. We had 34 youth/adult participants this year from five different states, with some coming as far away as Houston.
This was my fourth year to attend the camp (my first as a youth volunteer) and I have to say it was the best one yet. One of the things that made this year's camp different is that each youth (10-15 years old) was required to bring a mentor with them. This could be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or anyone over the age of 21 that would like to learn alongside the young person attending camp.
Each day was filled with a variety of activities, including, of course, fishing on Dry Run Creek. Also featured was basic fly tying and a very cool stream entomology class taught by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologist Tim Burnley and his assistant Michelle Fleming.
We had a casting course set up on the lawn behind the visitor's center where campers could practice casting at different sized targets and win some awesome prizes provided by Wapsi. Also, Christy Graham, the new Trout Management biologist with AGFC, brought out their shocking boat and talked to us about the trout tagging program.
Again, our TU camp would not have been a success without all of the great volunteers who came out and gave of their time to guide on the creek, teach fly tying, cook the meals and do all of the other things to make this camp so special.
But, as if all of that wasn't enough, on Sunday afternoon before we left, everyone gathered under the pavilion one more time and each youth that attended received a brand new Orvis Encounter fly-fishing outfit courtesy of Bob Wyble with deerhunterfan.com, as well as Steve Dally and Jim Dugan of Dally's Ozark Fly Fisher.
Michael Schraeder, 13, will be a freshman at Mountain Home Junior High School in the fall, and is the current Southern Council Federation of Fly Fishers' Junior Fly Tying champion.