or the past five summers members of the BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF), the Comox Valley Fly Fishers and appropriate government agencies and industry groups join forces in delivering an inspiring, memory creating Kid Camp formally sponsored by Region 1 of the BCWF.
The Kid Camp is hosted by the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association (CDFGPA) at its magnificent site on Comox Lake. Words fail me when I try to express my admiration for the volunteers who come out to make this unique children’s camp a success. From the cooks, archers, anglers, shooters, to the grandmothers who comfort the odd homesick child, it is an inspiring adventure for all concerned.
On the afternoon the children arrive they get a memorable experience of a special bus trip to Mount Washington to view Vancouver Island marmots in the wild. These youngsters get to see a creature on the brink of survival.
According to recent climate change studies the environment on Mount Washington may change so that it isn’t compatible with the survival of these marmots. I wonder how many Valley residents have seen our unique marmots in the wild.
The first evening is Cowboy Action in the club’s pioneer village setting and orientation to camp routines. The morning programs are tightly scheduled with the boys and girls (aged 10 to 14) being organized into mixed groups of 10 or 11 for each session. Pictured with this column is the first morning lineup for a delicious breakfast of pancakes, sausage, and fresh fruit.
Each group is rotated through hands-on sessions in archery, shooting, combined fly tying and casting. During the afternoons they get a life jacket drill from the RCMP, survival drill from members of Squadron 442 and a message from conservation officers on the importance of conservation and following the rules. Evenings are filled with campfire circles (no campfire this year) and the experience of camping camaraderie.
What does a child take away from such a camp? Well in this case here are a few tangible and not so tangible mementos – targets with arrow and bullet holes in them, a box of flies some of which they tied themselves.
For some of them it was likely the time they saw the stars and moonlight undimmed by urban lights in the night sky. They received some basic lessons on how to be a responsible fisher, hunter or outdoor person. During the short four days of the camp they were subjected to magnum doses of natural learning to cure some of nature’s deficiencies. This column would suggest it is good thing.
• • •
The 27th annual Bullhead Derby takes place Saturday, Aug. 3 at the government wharf in Comox from 8:30 to 11:30 am. Note: The entry form states a life jacket or personal flotation device required. This year I will be going to the derby with the children of children I took to the derby over 20 years ago. It would be a safe bet that there are more than a few grandparents having the same type of experience.
One has to wonder about the popularity of a catch and release derby that focuses on such inauspicious trophy fish as the common bullhead and still continues to attract hundreds of children each year. For many children it will be their first fish and for several young skilled bullhead fishers it is a time to show their angling skills.
In keeping with the goals of the derby I suggest keeping your fishing tackle as simple as possible. The small fishing rods for children are suitable. Pinch the barbs on the hooks for easy release of fish. Worms or small bits of raw fish make good bait. Weights such as split shot or weighed lures are important to get the bait near the bottom.
It is a good idea to bring a small bucket such as an ice cream pail to carry fish to the judging and release station, although you get small plastic bags to carry the fish in when you register. To simplify the registration fill out the registration form in advance. Good Luck to all bullhead fishers.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.