Freshwater Fish Camps
(We are always Looking for More Good Partners!)
One of a child’s most lasting memories is often of the first fish they caught. Many programs help parents and children catch their first fish at various fun fishing events. However, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Fishing Camp program goes far beyond by helping young people learn a healthy lifetime sport and the importance of conservation stewardship.
The freshwater fishing and basic boating skills camp is based on the successful pilot program developed by FWC at Joe Budd Youth Conservation Center, near Tallahassee. Beginning in June 2000, about 100 youngsters have attended the camp each summer, and research surveys have shown the vast majority continues to enjoy recreational angling and to feel more connected to nature.
In 2011, Florida’s Governor recognized Rae Waddell and Steve Marshall, who created this program, for their efforts to work with local partners to provide healthy, conservation-minded opportunities for Florida’s youth. Fishing license dollars, and more specifically voluntary donations to youth fishing and hunting programs that many anglers make when they buy their licenses, help fund these camps.
The FWC’s Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network has established partnerships with over a dozen City and County Recreation programs, and multiple not-for-profit organizations, to bring the Fishing Camp program to local communities. Efforts to expand these programs and get more children involved in active nature-based recreation not only provide an enjoyable introduction to this classic American tradition, but also benefit their physical and mental health and endow a sense of stewardship for our natural resources.Robert Carmona, a Park Manager with Miami-Dade County Parks, said: “Our inaugural fishing camp was a success not only because we operated at capacity, but also because we were able to introduce children to angling and instill in them a respect for the resources.” Through adding fishing camp to Miami-Dade’s summer offering they have introduced hundreds of children to a new lifetime sport that is affordable and gets them active in nature. “Part of Miami-Dade Park’s mission is to create outstanding natural, recreational opportunities for this and future generations. By teaching about fish, water, and healthy environments, we instilled a sense of responsibility for the environment that we hope will translate into advocacy for the parks department and green spaces in general,” said Carmona.
FWC continually seeks partner groups who are committed to working with youth and/or families to provide quality programs and who will help document the long-term success of these educational efforts. In return, FWC provides a Fish Camp Implementation Template, on-site staff training and assists with purchasing camp essentials that are expected to last several years.