By Pat Hesselgesser – WCTU – chair
Finally, after two years of no Youth Conservation & Fly Fishing Academy due to Covid, we gathered in Lacy Washington at the Gwinnwood Camp the last full week in June. With 4 returning students working as “ghillies” (In Scotland and Ireland : a fishing or hunting guide) and 8 young first time students, an incredible team of volunteers worked to teach them as much as they could learn in 1 week about our watersheds, fish, aquatic insects, water safety, accountability and the natural world around them, fly tying and fly fishing. What an incredible group of youngsters this was and a great experience!! I was so fortunate to attend and help out.
Huge THANKS to our amazing outgoing co-directors from FFI (Fly Fishers International) and both TU members – Mike Clancy & Jim Brosiofor their 18+ years of running this camp. These two guys have so much knowledge about running this camp that we are glad they will be around next year on an advisory capacity!! Their dedication and love of these youths really shined through the whole time!!
Extremely grateful for the new co-directors stepping up to take over – John Gravendyk (WCTU Youth Education Chair) & from the Icicle Valley TU Chapter – Bruce Merighi & from FFI Carol Anderson. This Youth Camp is an amazing collaboration with FFI and WCTU; FFI has provided years of invaluable support to the program. Thank you to all the FFI team!!! We are so proud of this partnership and look forward to next year!! Of note the work has already started & we are planning this camp for 2023, which includes re-building the website. So in a few months we will link you all up to the new website so you can keep tabs on this program for 2023! Stay Tuned!!
Special thanks to the parents of these teens for trusting us in their care and education; and a special thank you to all our volunteers who made this program work this year!!
Matt Tuttle, Camp Director, Robert Gerlach, Steve Jones IFFF Certified Casting Instructors, Ron Holtcamp – Olympia Chapter Trout Unlimited, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Janet Shimpf, Fly Tying Instructor & Commercial Fly Tyer, J. Michelle Swope- Fly Tying Demo and Instruction, Oly Women on The Fly & Olympia TU Chapter, WDFW enforcement officers, & Joshua Howen and Sarah Ashworth – Olympia TU Chapter for feeding the camp in an outstanding BBQ on Friday night!!
Finally, A HUGE Thank you to all our donors from both TU and FFI chapters across our state; Fly Fishing Clubs and individuals here in Washington – without your donations we could not provide this opportunity in Youth Education!!