Minnesota’s Forkhorn Youth Camps – a national leader in hunting education, ethicsAt a time when most states are watching hunter numbers fall, Minnesota is enviably experiencing a fairly stable hunter population. Why? One reason may be the subtle but prolific Forkhorn Youth Summer Camps sponsored by Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA).
At a time when most states are watching hunter numbers fall, Minnesota is enviably experiencing a fairly stable hunter population. Why? One reason may be the subtle but prolific Forkhorn Youth Summer Camps sponsored by Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA).
Now entering their 24th summer of activity, MDHA’s Forkhorn Youth Summer Camps certify youngsters 11-17 years of age in firearms safety, bow hunter education and advanced hunter education.
Additionally, campers learn about woodsmanship, ethical hunting, wilderness survival, wildlife biology, hunting techniques, canoeing and much more.
“Forkhorn Camps are about instilling into our children an appreciation for our natural resources,” said MDHA Executive Director Mark Johnson. “Yes, we teach them how to shoot guns and bows and muzzleloaders safely. We also teach them other valuable skills like how to use a compass, how to find a lost companion in the woods, and how to ask a landowner for permission.”
Now offered at six environmental learning locations across Minnesota, MDHA’s Forkhorn Camps set a record in 2007 with 615 kids attending. This summer, MDHA has again expanded and plans to break that record with over 700 camp attendees.
“I am aware of similar programs in the U.S., but none at the high level of attendance or the high level of learning that Forkhorn Camps provide,” stated Laurentian Environmental Center Director Sue Hankner, whose facility hosts six Forkhorn Camp sessions including a “Girls Only” session. “Forkhorn Camps absolutely set the bar for excellence. I wish other conservation and outdoor groups would take MDHA’s lead and promote outdoor youth education the way they have. Forkhorn Camps are exactly the youth learning experience that is needed if we hope to avoid losing our outdoor heritage.”
Forkhorn Youth Summer Camps consist of week-long sessions (Sunday to Friday) with a price tag of approximately $350 per camper; that includes meals, lodging, shooting, the whole experience.
While this may seem a bargain compared to other camp experiences, for some it is still too expensive.
“For those families that still can’t afford it, MDHA chapters offer limited scholarships,” said Johnson. “Last year those scholarships amounted to close to $130,000.”
Scholarship funding is raised by MDHA chapters through fund raisers such as banquets and through MDHA’s Hides For Habitat program that recycles donated hunter harvested deer hides.
To find out more about Minnesota Deer Hunters Association’s Forkhorn Youth Summer Camps, visit www.mndeerhunters.com and click on “programs,” or call MDHA headquarters at 218-327-1103.
Camp contact information is available via MDHA’s Forkhorn Camp brochure at www.mndeerhunters.com.