ALL Kids Have the Right to an Outdoor Adventure

If you missed the Monday night meeting at Hal Holmes, you missed something special.

First of all, we were celebrating the 95th anniversary of the Kittitas County Field and Stream Club.

The club was organized in March of 1919, as the Ellensburg Sportsmen Association. It organized with 75 charter members. …And dues of 50 cents a year. President Austin Miers and Secretary-Treasurer J.H. Van Gusen presided over a dedicated group of men (mostly) and women who hosted bird dog trials and wildlife meetings, sent delegates to the Washington Game Commission and reached out to wildlife groups across the state and nation.

In 1946, the Club incorporated as the Kittitas County Field & Stream Club. Today, as you likely know, the Club is a non-profit corporation promoting public access to public lands, effective conservation, good sportsmanship, and environmental and outdoor education of youth. Great effort goes into improving and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities – especially hunting and fishing.

The rich chocolate anniversary cake was delicious, by the way, and helped us appropriately celebrate 95 years of “Working Today for Tomorrow’s Wildlife.”

At another level, the evening was about our fervently held and shared belief that all kids have the right to enjoy outdoor activities. To wit: our proposal that “The children of Washington have the right to discover and experience the outdoors through activities including the following: Create an outdoor adventure; Explore a trail; Camp under the stars; Go fishing; Discover nature; Explore Washington’s heritage; Go on a picnic; Play in a park, in the water, in the snow, on the rocks; Go hunting; Learn to be safe around firearms and other outdoor tools.”

Our first guests were Glenna Maskal and son Grant, leaders in our local On-Target 4H Shooting Sports Program. We have supplied the program with a trailer and certain supplies, and they were bringing us up to date on the number of kids in the program, the various types of shooting activities with which they are involved, and the growing demand for a safe family-oriented marksmanship program. It has been a good partnership, and we look forward to a long run.

Our main program went right to the heart of our kids’ outdoor bill of rights. Joe and Cindy Carpenter drove over from Moses Lake to give us some first-hand information about their Youth Outdoors Unlimited (Y.O.U.) program. This is a tax exempt 501(c)3 corporation focused on making hunting and fishing dreams come true for young people diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and/or a physical disability. The program, started by a spark from a Mississippi program in 2010, is already doing remarkable things for dozens of kids who really need something remarkable.

Twelve kids are already approved, or in the application process, for camps and hunting or fishing trips this year. Fishing trips are for anything from warm water spiny-rays to salmon over 30 pounds. Hunting may be for turkeys, white-tail or mule deer or bears, with other possibilities. The youngster who successfully lands fish or harvests game gets the meat processed, the critter mounted and a photo record of the experience. There are fishing derbies and old-fashioned hunting camps, where the kid picks the menu. All outings are with established guides. Whatever the hunter or fisher needs for gear – from clothing to a special chair or custom-fitted rod or firearm – is provided by the program and its sponsors.

After only four short years, the Y.O.U. sponsor list reads like a who’s who of regional, national and international hunting, fishing and gear outfits. Start with Cabela’s and Wholesale Sports Outdoor Outfitters and work your way to Horns & Hooks Magazine, Vortex Optics, Gunwerks and Brothers ‘N Arms. Add in a couple dozen custom clothing or equipment manufacturers contributing to a disabled kid’s ability to suddenly be abled, and you have a flavor of what Joe and Cindy have started.

Most of our guests were too manly to show it once the lights came up, but the Y.O.U video we saw put laughter and joy in every heart, and tears in most eyes. Check out You will find heartwarming stories about these amazing youngsters and their adventures in every issue of Horns & Hooks Magazine. You are welcome to help, too.

We are working on bringing Joe and Cindy back to town for a community-wide presentation of their work. Stand by.

All kids have the right to outdoor adventures.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized