Montgomery Bell Family Campout Connects Participants to the Outdoors

Photo Submitted/A volunteer helps a young angler remove a fish from the hook at Montgomery Bell State Park. Each participant took home a free rod and reel after the event.

Over 50 youths and their families enjoyed a weekend of camping at the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Sixth Annual Montgomery Bell Family Campout June 22-23.

Families participated in outdoor education sessions and activities, including fishing, archery, scavenger hunts, raffle prize drawings and campfires. Those in attendance had the opportunity to stay overnight at the Montgomery Bell State Park campground.

Don Crawford, who works for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, instructed participants of all ages on how to shoot a bow and arrow.

“I like to see both the parents and the kids shooting because archery is a family event,” he said. “Anybody can do it and it teaches you life lessons. To me, archery teaches you confidence, teamwork, building stability in your life and concentration.”

Anthony Nicholson, a longtime USA member, volunteer, retired business manager of Insulators Local 86 and president of the Nashville Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), keeps coming back to see the kids interact in the outdoors.

“I just enjoy watching the kids have a good time,” he said. “I would do it once a month if need be because you get kids sometimes that don’t ever get this opportunity. To me, seeing the kids have a good time is worth every minute.”

Crawford enjoyed working with youth archers of different experience levels.

“A lot of them have potential. I like to see the ones who have never shot before get their first chance and hopefully hit the target,” Crawford said. “For those who have shot before, I liked helping them improve a little bit to where they hopefully want to buy their own bow after they leave.”

These events are part of a series of free, community-based youth outreach events organized under USA’s flagship conservation program, Work Boots on the Ground.

“It’s always rewarding to see how beneficial this campout is to kids and their families,” USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell said. “Last weekend, they learned new skills, made memories together and had fun outdoors. Introducing them to archery, fishing and camping is extremely important to the future of our outdoor heritage. Hopefully this is the first of many camping trips for everyone in attendance.”

According to Nicholson, the warm weather didn’t take anything away from the experience.

“It warms your heart to see the young kids come out and have a good time,” Nicholson said. “Even as hot as it was this weekend, it didn’t affect those kids having a good time. They were excited, it’s something new that they don’t ever get to do. Some of them even made the comment, ‘We are going to do this again next year’ so they are already looking forward to it.”

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