They may all be minors but they’ve been awarded a lot of responsibility.
Just northwest of Ponoka, the Lake Pofianga Fish and Game Youth Camp is teaching youths how to hunt safely and, once they’ve completed the camp’s hunting education course, awarding them their hunters’ certificate.
“Hunters’ education is the goal of our camp. It’s basically what the camp is about to begin with.” said Leonard Davis, president of the Ponoka Fish and Game Association.
To hunt, the certificate is mandatory and the camp teaches many aspects of hunting, such as using different firearms, bows, firearms safety, as well as canoeing safety.
Ethics of hunting are also stressed. Davis said all the components of the camp give youths an awareness of the reality of hunting, so they don’t end up poaching, and it’s easier to teach them when they’re young.
“We like to have them at 12 years old right up to 17,” Davis said. The camp gets around 20 first years each summer and about half as many returners. However, the campers almost never come back for more. The third-year campers who come back usually mentor more than camp Davis explained.
The ethics the camp teaches include making good choices and clean shots, as well as making sure to have land owners permission.
The use of bows at the camp gets the campers interested in the different aspects of hunting.
Campers are taught everything from the most basic information, such as how not to bruise their elbows with a bow, to firearm safety, including:
• Always checking for obstruction in the barrel
• Carrying a gun or arrows facing downwards
• Knowing the importance of ear and eye protection
• Proper gun placement and stance
The camp has been around since the 1960s, due to demand. “I’ve been waiting for this for a super long time,” said camper Svannah Dvornek, who was anxious for her hunting certificate.
Once she gets her certificate Dvornek wants to go hog hunting. “I like to try the different foods from the animals.”
Dvornek and twin sister Kendall competed in the Rifleman’s Rodeo last September, where Kendall won the junior division.
Despite her win Kendall likes shooting the camp’s bows better. “I don’t fall back every time I shoot a bow.”
But for some of the kids attending the camp it’s not only about hunting. Jonah Patenavde named wildlife preservation as one of the reasons he’s attending.
Along with hunting and canoeing the campers are exposed to another staple of the camp — its food. Davis couldn’t stop raving about the skills of camp cook Kathy Bogath.
“It’s second to none. If you don’t gain weight here, something’s wrong.”