EDITOR’S NOTE: Non-profit organization Faith Outfitters hosted a Trout Camp in Battle Ground for the second year in a row over Father’s Day weekend. The event is for kids 8 to 13 years old who don’t have a prominent father figure in their life. The camp included activities such as fishing, archery, a BB gun range and campfire barbecue. The goal of Trout Camp is to give youths without dads a memorable experience in the great outdoors — something they may never get to have otherwise. Founder Dave Freund shared with The Reflector a glimpse of this year’s event and why it’s so important.
The stories of these 30 kids are truly heart wrenching.
There are kids who have murdered parents, kids who have been beaten by their fathers and taken into state custody just days prior, several foster kids that don’t even know their dads — or either parent for that matter — some whose fathers have just walked away from them, and a few with deceased fathers, and everything in between. This is why we do this on Father’s Day weekend.
The event went very well and the kids had an absolute blast. They learned to shoot a bow and arrow as Archery World in Vancouver and Troutdale, owned by Joe and Megan Mallicoat, put on an instructional archery range.
We had Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife certified firearm safety instructors teaching the kids safe gun handling and shooting skills with BB guns.
The fish were provided by WDFW, which also had Fish and Wildlife officers come and mingle with the kids, and they did an awesome job breaking down that barrier that some of the kids have with law enforcement. There was also an instructional fishing rod casting range to hone their casting skills. Prizes were awarded for accuracy.
The fishing was a big hit, of course, and they caught lots of fish — some real big ones this year were added by Stacie Kelsey of the WDFW to add an extra fun element to the excitement.
The event is an overall outdoor experience that fewer and fewer kids it seems get exposure to as time goes on. They needed no batteries or power cords the whole day. They got to hang out in a beautiful outdoor creekside setting for the day with a campfire side lunch provided in part by Ridgefield Pioneer Marketplace and Columbia Distributing.
This is also a unique experience for many to be a part of — the complete circle of life. The process from catching their food, to processing it, to then eating it. The fish were cleaned by volunteers and sent home on ice so the kids got to have a fish dinner.
In some cases, kids came saying they don’t like fishing, but were saying they love fishing by the afternoon.
The cheers, squeals and overall energy of these kids was very neat to hear. The day is an inspirational time for the amazing group of volunteers.
We had a guest speaker, Rob Williams, who gave them an inspirational message telling them that they can write their story. We don’t all have the ideal perfect situation but we don’t have to let that dictate our future or define — “we can write our own story.”
Our hope was to give them a very fun day for sure and a message of hope that there are people in this world who will be there for them and care for them and most of all, that they are special, valuable and matter.
We had a great host of people who said “I want to be a part of something this meaningful” including: The Sherertz Family, Real Living Real Estate, Thrivent Financial, FlashLove, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Bill Matthews Outdoors, Stone Ridge Homes, Ridgefield Pioneer Marketplace, Righteous Clothing, Scott Swindell Attorney, Sunflower Media, Ballyhoo Print and many volunteers.
Its validating that people get exposed to this event and will come up to me and ask how they can be a part of this event next year when they see the inspiration it provides to such a vulnerable group of kids.