All About Y.O.U.

We’ve discussed Youth Outdoors Unlimited (Y.O.U.) before. This is that amazing organization founded in 2011 by Cindy and Joe Carpenter of Moses Lake, Washington. Y.O.U. has moved far beyond that small start – impacting kids, families and companies across the Pacific Northwest, into Canada, and much of the USA.

Three years ago, I passed along the story of two 14-year-olds – a boy and a girl – whose families wanted them fully involved in the outdoors. Y.O.U. got them into deep-forest bear hunting. At one level, they were just ordinary youngsters wanting to hunt and fish and bathe in fresh air and sunshine like any kid. At another level – involving wheelchairs, shooting skills, a little extra mentoring and steadfast determination reflected in huge smiles – Amy Moore and Dariece Steele were anything but ordinary successful bear hunters.

Y.O.U is a 501(c)3 corporation focused on making hunting and fishing dreams come true for young people diagnosed with life-threatening illness and/or physical disability – youngsters with a need to taste life with fewer limits. The mission of Youth Outdoors Unlimited is to create individual outdoor adventures for youth who have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness and/or physical disability and who dream of hunting or fishing. Each adventure is done one child at a time, designed to fulfill the kid’s specific hunting or fishing request. (Given the available trips during an application year, Y.O.U. may suggest a different adventure, but every effort is made to grant the child’s unique wish.)

Applications to the program are pretty thorough, with all information needed for the program to make a decision on the youth’s request. The application includes a doctor’s medical verification of the youth’s condition and a release for them to participate, parent or guardian signature, the applicant’s reason for applying and a photo of the adventuring youngster.

By the way, all expenses associated with these adventures are covered through Y.O.U.’s fundraising efforts. This includes all training, licensing, full outfitting, meat preparation, and travel and food costs for up to a 3 day hunt or fishing adventure. Y.O.U. generally provides a full camping experience with each adventure, but some require hotel stays. Any special clothing, custom-fitted gear or firearm required or needed is provided by the program and its sponsors. This includes the Y.O.U. camo “track chair” which can get youngsters into places a normal wheel chair might not. Each hunter or fisher gets a photo record of their big adventure, and taxidermy work on the animal they harvest.

All this really happens. Since 2011, Y.O.U. has taken 53 youngsters with life-threatening illnesses and/or physical disability on custom adventures. Eleven of them took fishing trips, 21 went on deer hunts, 13 hunted bears (US and Canada), five went elk hunting, and three others had adventures hunting turkey, antelope or moose. Four trips are already set for 2017, with another 16 spaces to be filled. Youth Outdoors Unlimited makes bigger, wider, openings into the outdoors – wide enough to admit some of us who can’t just step out and go.

Y.O.U. is 100% donation funded. To fully fund youngsters’ experiences it holds fundraising events each year and relies on donations from individuals and contributions from companies who believe in the mission of Youth Outdoors Unlimited. On top of the obvious dollar costs of these terrific unique and individual adventures, add in several thousand volunteer hours each year.

(Photos are from Y.O.U. archives: Christopher Lindor with his deer on the left and Maegan Weiler with her black bear on the right.)

Company sponsors are almost a who’s who of our outdoor lives. They include Backus Marketing, BIE, Basic American Foods, Cabelas, Sportsmans Warehouse, Vortex Optics, Buck Knives, Tri State Outfitters Moses Lake, North Fork Custom Rods, O’Loughlin Trade Shows, Shuyler Productions, and Horns & Hooks TV and Magazine. Several custom clothing and equipment manufacturers step up when needed.

Individual Washington State fundraising efforts begin next Saturday (March 4) in Moses Lake. After that are events in Yakima (March 25), Spokane (April 8), and Lakewood (April 15). Tickets and donation information are available on Y.O.U.’s website at www.youthoutdoorsu.org  (click the News and Events Tab). You may also contact Cindy at 509-431-1604 or you@youthoutdoorsu.org. If you can’t make one of these, and want to be part of the Y.O.U. family, send your check to Y.O.U. c/o Cindy Carpenter, 6818 Partridge Dr NE, Moses Lake, WA 98837.

And thus begins another year of helping youngsters see new possibilities as abled outdoor people.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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