The FWC is aggressively combating the tendency for today’s youth to disconnect from nature and the outdoors, through the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN). A major part of this initiative is expanding “Fishing and Basic Boating Skills Camps” (Fish Camps) throughout the state. Kids spend large blocks of time indoors with digital media and electronic devices, which isn’t all bad, but they need to balance that with an active outdoor lifestyle. They need to get real. A great way to encourage that is to put a rod and reel in their hands.
Fish Camps, for youth ages 9–15, combine the teaching and practical application of basic and advanced angling skills with basic boating skills. A fisheries biologist provides a fish identification and anatomy demonstration and a law enforcement officer provides a boating safety demonstration. The goal of Fish Camp is to establish individuals as life-long anglers and stewards of aquatic and fisheries resources, so they can benefit from a healthy, active connection with nature.
This unique program utilizes partners to expand the reach and cost-effectiveness of the camp concept developed by the FWC. Plans are to establish at least one Fish Camp in each of Florida’s 67 counties; there are currently just under 20 camp locations scattered around Florida. The core project was developed and tested using Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) funds. Implementing the program also depends on donations from anglers, who voluntarily contribute when buying their fishing licenses. FWC assists cooperators with startup costs for new camp locations and trains non-FWC trainers to conduct the camps. FWC staff also assist with evaluating camps to ensure positive impacts on campers’ environmental concern, fishing skills, and long-term participation. To locate a camp, or if you know of a group interested in starting the camp at a new location, contact FYCCN at FYCCN@myfwc.com
Fish Camps are fun and exciting for kids, but what they learn will ultimately help them live happier and healthier lives and become advocates for sustaining our environmental resources. Your contributions to “Youth Hunting and Fishing Programs” when you purchase a license are the driving force behind these camps, and along with our corporate partners and matching SFR funds, will help more kids enjoy the experience. Together we are “Creating the Next Generation that Cares.”
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