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Kids learn to shoot rifles, trap animals and gut fish at this Maine summer camp

The Maine Youth Fish & Game Association summer camp in Hancock County is where kids who love the outdoors thrive

MILFORD, Maine — At the Maine Youth Fish & Game Association summer camp, kids learn about wilderness survival, hunting, fishing and more.

It's a hands-on and hard-core week-long experience.

"I like doing all of this stuff and I'd rather do this than play video games," said 13-year-old Brady Grange.

Brady isn't alone. None of the kids seemed to have a problem with setting down the gaming controller or cell phone in exchange for the outdoors.

"It's really awesome. Fishing is awesome and I love doing all the outdoor stuff and how there are no electronics," says 13-year-old Avery Redding. 

"I like to sit at home and watch movies a lot but it's good to get outside and get away from it," said 14-year-old Jayda Roy.

At camp, kids learn about gaming laws and safety. 

"I bet if you asked any kid out here how many inches a fish has to be to keep and how many you can keep they'd know the answer," said camp director Jim Winslow. 

I put them to the test. He was correct.

6 inches and only 2 fish, they all responded confidently.

The camp is frequently visited by game wardens to help not only teach about gaming law and safety but also so that these young outdoorsmen and women become familiar with their presence. 

"If these kids pick up one of these skills they learn here, then they'll probably be seeing many game wardens in their future," said Winslow. "It's good to have them here to establish relationships at an early age." 

From what I saw, these kids didn't only seem like a group comfortable in the presence of game wardens, but many struck me as future game wardens themselves.

Once the kids catch their fish or two, they're responsible for gutting and cleaning the catch.

"It's disgusting, but you've got to do it," said Jayda Roy, with a dead fish in one hand and its guts in the other.

Bows and arrows and shooting rifles are also on the camp agenda. 

Courses in fly fish tying, trapping, and bug studies are also offered when special teachers are available to visit the camp.

The camp is a non-profit and campers pay just a fraction of the cost of a normal summer camp to have this experience.

Summer camp committee chair Matt Redding says, "The best thing community members can do if they have an interest in our organization is to help out. We're always looking for people to sit on our board. This takes a lot of volunteer work and we can always use the help." 

Monetary donations are also welcome. 

Camp organizers don't want financial limitations to prevent any child from attending the camp.

"We will work with anyone who is interested to find a financial solution," said Redding. A scholarship is one option. 

The summer program is very popular and often fills up quickly.

Registration opens each year in March. 

Applications must be sent in via snail mail to give everyone equal opportunity regardless of if they have internet access.

For more information, visit the Maine Youth Fish and Game Association website by clicking here

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