20th PA Rivers Conservation And Fly Fishing Youth Camp A Success

The 20th PA Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp held at Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania was a success! Each year the camp teaches 32 students the importance of coldwater conservation and the science behind it as well as fly fishing and fly tying. 

This year eight students were from states other than Pennsylvania. The co-ed camp included two girls.  While at camp the students completed a stream habitat repair project on the Yellow Breeches Creek.

At the end of camp, a student and a graduate were selected to receive one of two awards.  This year the awards went to--

-- Leon Chandler Award: Mike Yakich of Pittsburgh received the Leon Chandler Award for his leadership at the camp.

This award is given in memory of Mr. Chandler, a former Vice President of Cortland Line Company and Chairman of the Board of Trout Unlimited, who passed away in 2004.  Leon, as he was known to the staff and students, was a great supporter of the camp.  The award is given to a student who best typifies Leon’s ideals.

-- Dr. Robert Behnke Award: Lucas Young, currently residing in the state of Washington received the Dr. Robert Behnke Award for his continued efforts in salmonid research. Lucas attended the Maine camp in 2004.

Each year this award is presented to graduates of the PA Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp or any other youth camp modeled after the Pennsylvania Camp, who have gone on to further the cause of coldwater conservation.

Robert J. Behnke, Ph.D. was a Professor of Fisheries Conservation and Wildlife Biology at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.  He is the author of more than two hundred articles and papers regarding fish and fisheries and has served on numerous advisory boards for state and federal agencies.

Bob was the author of two books, Trout and Salmon of North America (The Free Press, New York, 2002) and About Trout (The Lyons Press, Guilford, CT, 2007) as well as numerous technical publications and articles in magazines and periodicals.  Dr. Behnke has contributed the About Trout column to “Trout” magazine since 1983. 

Dr. Behnke came to the Pennsylvania Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp in the camp’s second year, 1996, at the behest of camp founders Dr.  Jack Beck and Inky Moore to speak to the students as the camp’s keynote speaker.  His continued presence at the camp, providing his knowledge on trout biology and salmonids around the world provided the students with world class insight about trout and salmon.

Dr. Behnke passed away in September, 2013. To honor Dr. Behnke’s memory and his efforts at the Pennsylvania Camp and coldwater and salmonid conservation in general, the award will be presented annually to a graduate of the PA Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp or any camp modeled after the Pennsylvania camp.

Background On The Rivers Camp

During the five day residence camp, the students are instructed in ecology, aquatic biology, geology, hydrogeology, erosion and sedimentation control, ichthyology, riparian corridor protection, watershed management, entomology and much more.  Students also participate in a hands-on stream habitat improvement project.

But it’s not all work.  Fly fishing and fly tying are included.  Nationally known instructors teach the students fly casting, fly tying, stream etiquette, how to “read” the water, and of course there is fishing.  The camp begins on Sunday and ends the following Friday

The camp is limited to 32 selected qualified students, ages 14 to 17.   The thirty-two students were selected through an application process were expressed why they wanted to attend camp.  The competition for admission is fierce.  

The camp costs each student $350 for the entire week.  All meals and accommodations are included for the residence camp.  A student need not be an accomplished fly fisher or a budding aquatic biologist to attend.  All the student needs to be is highly motivated and willing to learn.

The Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp was founded in 1995 through the efforts of the late Dr. John R. “Jack” Beck and the late Enoch S. “Inky” Moore, Jr., Pennsylvania Fish Commissioner.  Their goal was to select thirty-two teenagers each year who are the leaders in their class.  The thought is that today’s leaders in high school become the leader of tomorrow’s communities. 

In a few short years they will be the bankers, lawyers, realtors, municipal officials and the leaders in their communities.  If the camp can implant a kernel of knowledge in today’s students about the importance of clean water, when those students become the decision makers in their communities it may have a positive impact on how water resources are used.

Alumni are welcome to attend the Thursday evening picnic and share their experiences since they attended camp.

The highly successful camp has been emulated in Michigan, North Carolina, Maine, Montana, Washington, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Idaho, Illinois, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia/D.C./Maryland/West Virginia with other states looking to start their own programs.

For more information, visit the PA Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp website.


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