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Waiting for Woodie Camp: Young waterfowlers can attend free, weeklong summer camp

Woodie Camp in Fergus Falls is free and open to Minnesota youth who meet the requirements. The deadline to apply is May 15.

Each summer since 1989, young waterfowlers from around the state have gathered at the Minnesota Waterfowl Association's Woodie Camp. Developed with guidance from professionals of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Woodie Camp is a summer youth camp like no other. It's really a week-long immersion into all things waterfowl. "Basically, we want to expose campers to waterfowl in every way," said Brad Nylin, MWA executive director. "It all revolves around Waterfowl 365, or every aspect of waterfowl in a 365-day year."

Camp is held at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center (PWLC) in Fergus Falls. Fifty kids attend each year and "campers" traditionally come from all over the state of Minnesota. With the PWLC literally being in our backyard it is very easy for our local kids to attend and learn about waterfowl. This year's camp will be held August 6-12, 2017.

Campers are dropped off on Sunday and picked up the following Saturday. In between the kids learn everything about nesting habitat, identifying prairie grasses and why they are so important; to wetlands, their purpose and what ducks eat. Waterfowl identification and migration are also covered. Campers are instructed in dog training and how to set decoy on the water and in the field. Building wood duck houses, mallard hen houses as well as learning how to carve decoys and paint decoys are also part of the curriculum. Learning about cleaning ducks and how to cook them is always a hit with campers. Shooting clay targets is a big part of camp and let's not forget about clean those guns. Classes on first aid in the field and a "lake day" with boat and water safety are also included. A real highlight of camp is actually being able to handle live ducks, attach bands and release them. It's really is a terrific hands-on, week long camp where the entire focus is on ducks and geese.

There is no cost to attend Woodie Camp and it's open to those ages 13 to 15 - who have completed firearms safety. A simple application is required which includes a short essay on why the youth would like to come to camp.

Once selected to attend a $150 deposit required. This is returned upon completion of Camp. How is it possible to not have a cost to attend? It's thanks to the many supporters of Woodie Camp, like the Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club. The Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club has been the longest major supporter of this camp, and they would like to invite any youth from the area to apply and participate.

Applications for Woodie Camp can be found on the MWA website www.mnwaterfowl.com/ You can see for yourself what happens at Woodie Camp by going to this website and clicking on the Woodie Camp tab and selecting a year. Once there you will see lots of photos, videos and blogs. The application deadline is May 15.

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