Camping trip with KAMO

Kids And Mentors Outdoors (KAMO) is an organization that was started through this column and is based in the state of Wisconsin.

KAMO’s goal is to get kids outside and it could be with one-onones where a mentor takes a kid on an outdoor experience. Or, as you are about to read about, where several mentors donate a weekend of their time and take 15 kids on a camping, fishing, tubing and just plain fun trip.

This week’s experience is bought to you by The Meadow Valley Chapter of KAMO (there are six chapters). Our experience took place on the Petenwell Flowage at Wilderness Park.

Friday, July 15

High 82, Low 51

So, we have kids from Tomah, New Lisbon and Mauston on this adventure. For boats we have a 16-foot Lund, an 18-foot War Eagle and my pal Jody Bigalke’s 1860 flat bottom, carp-fishing rig that is pushed by either an outboard or a pusher fan.

I think it was about 15 kids in all for this experience and for many of them the last time that they fished or camped was last year on this annual trip.

So, tonight Aaron and Janine Bigalke, the camp hosts/supply purchasers, cooks and trip organizers, cooked an excellent meal.

After dark, Jody Biglake, who is Meadow Valley’s president, tried taking as many kids out for a try at carp shooting as possible. I would like to say that was a successful mission but due to water clarity issues no carp were shot.

I am going to tell you several short stories of what I witnessed or experienced during this outing.

Ten-year-old Gavin Krizan had a new tent and his goal was to sleep alone in it tonight. Gavin met that goal.

Saturday, July 16

High 84, Low 54

Today was an all-over-themap with-activities kind of day. After an awesome breakfast which was cooked by our friends Danny and Collette Schultz, we took our three boats and 13 of the kids fishing.

In two of the boats we trolled, and in Jody Bigalke’s boat they anchored and hammered the sheephead.

The Shultzes are an example of how we take volunteers in KAMO. Once a year they are part of this trip with their children, Sydney and Simon. The Shultzes are not members but help a ton. They are like family and everything works.

So my boat has Tess Bigalke, Sydney Shultz, Catrina Johnson, myself and Danny Schultz. We troll for whatever is hungry with crankbaits and crawler harnesses, and nothing really matters.

Each of the kids either caught a walleye, striped bass, catfish or a sheephead and every one of them learned how to put out and bring in planer boards.

Jody Bigalke took a bunch of kids up to where the Wisconsin River enters the Petenwell Flowage and they caught a ton of sheephead and kept every one of them.

Jeff Neitzel trolled with the younger kids and his nephew, Ian Neitzel, and these guys were also successful. When we got back to camp, Jody and I filleted them and then the true craziness began.

That “wild ride,” as I may describe it, was in the form of taking the kids tubing. For me, I like to see if I can throw the kids off the tube and I have to admit I was successful. Jeff was awesome as he literally pulled kids for hours.

Just before we started tubing, I was stung in the ear by a hornet and that was the third hit I took this month and second in three days. Something not good as far as reactions is happening to me when it comes to hornet/wasp and bee stings.

Danny Schultz cooked up about 30 sheephead, and some walleye and catfish. Let me tell you, as my good buddy Gary Howe has always said, when you are having a fish fry no one can tell the difference between sheephead and the other species of fish.

On another side note, Tess Bigalke caught a baby mouse while fishing on my boat today and that became a pet. Holden Rydmark got thrown so hard when tubing that it knocked off his shorts!

It is really neat to watch the kids from the surrounding communities as they mesh for a weekend each year.

In a further testament to our organization’s success our seventh chapter is being created and our vice president Ben Gruber is a big part of that.

Our new chapter will be the MarshPoint Chapter of KAMO and will be out of the Marshfield and Stevens Point areas. You can check out this chapter’s next meeting dates or how to start a chapter or take a kid fishing or just about anything to do with KAMO at www.kamokids.org.

Volunteer, give back – you will have no regrets!

Sunset


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