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Fly-Fishing Camp is great for youngsters!

Judy Van Put - Columnist
Posted 5/25/20

In a recent telephone conference call with Lee Hartman and Pete Grimbalis, both avid fly-fishermen and Board members of the Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR) I learned of an exciting …

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Fly-Fishing Camp is great for youngsters!

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In a recent telephone conference call with Lee Hartman and Pete Grimbalis, both avid fly-fishermen and Board members of the Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR) I learned of an exciting opportunity for local youngsters - a summer fly-fishing camp for children. The FUDR/Bill Canfield Fly Fishing Camp will celebrate its ninth year of operation and is looking for more potential campers in August this summer - IF the State of New York allows camps to operate.

The camp was named in memory of Bill Canfield, an avid fly-fisher, who grew up in the late 1980s fishing the upper Delaware River system with his father Dave and brother Doug, and who considered the river and its environment his favorite place. Bill passed from cancer, and the family wanted to memorialize him in a special way.

Realizing how few youngsters were out fishing and enjoying the river that flowed nearby, they decided to create a camp in Bill's name to teach local youths to appreciate the river and its environment, and learn how to fly-fish by providing fishing gear, instruction and related activities in a week-long camp - at no cost to the local children.

In 2015 The Bill Canfield Fly Fishing Camp was invited to partner with the world-renowned French Woods Sports and Arts Center (FWSAC) in Hancock. French Woods attracts youngsters to attend their first-rate summer camps, offering a tremendously varied program of outdoor activities with top-notch instructors and counselors from around the world.

With funding for scholarships for local children from the Canfield family, FUDR, business and community leaders and professional guides, the camp offers a rare opportunity for local youths. The week-long sleepaway camp is open to those ages 12 - 17, with no fly-fishing experience necessary.

A sampling of last year's itinerary:

MONDAY: Students meet their instructors. Each is given a new Orvis flyrod, reel, line, and flies. A discussion follows on fly-fishing and what the week will involve, as well as instruction on how to assemble and care for the rods (which they take home at the end of camp;) a casting clinic, separated by ability, and pond fishing.

TUESDAY: Trip to East Branch Outfitters in Hancock, where the kids learn about trout feeding and entymology, observing flies and nymphs; how to identify trout feeding lanes, how to drift dries and streamers.

WEDNESDAY: Fly Tying - a favorite activity for past campers. Vises and materials are provided, and campers are given close instruction on types of flies, sizes of hooks, proportions, materials and tying techniques.

THURSDAY: Trip to the Beaverkill! A private fishing club provides access for this most exciting day of fishing in the famed Beaverkill, which has been stocked prior to the campers' arrival - all campers are mentored and are usually successful, many in catching their first-ever trout!

FRIDAY: Trip to Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, Livingston Manor, to learn about the history of fly fishing in America. In addition, the opportunity to fish the Willowemoc Creek.

SATURDAY: Trip to Indian Springs Fly Fishing Camp, Hancock, to fish larger and more challenging water. A cookout follows the fishing session, with Bill Canfield FF Camp Diplomas being awarded.

After their fly-fishing sessions, campers can participate in any of the electives French Woods offers - from field sports to water skiing, archery and horseback riding; and indoor offerings from learning an instrument to recording, DJing and film making, painting and more. (Additional information can be found at www.fwsportsarts).

All meals and sleeping arrangements are provided, in addition to the Orvis rod/reel/line and flies. The goal of the camp is to include as many youngsters as possible from Hancock and the surrounding area (including Sullivan County) but if the quota of 12 campers has not been reached, it will be open to children from outside the area.

The FUDR/Bill Canfield FF Camp is greatly concerned about the health and safety of their campers and staff; and French Woods, in conjunction with NYS guidance, has delayed opening this year due to the pandemic. They will not hold the traditional June session but are looking forward to a session in August.

Potential campers who can't afford to pay the normal price can fill out a Scholarship Form, as there are several sources of funding available. For information on this exciting opportunity for kids this summer, please contact Pete Grimbilas at (973) 454-0315; email peterg@pcwfab.com; or visit www.BillCanfieldCamp.com.

Judy Van Put is a long-time member of the NYS Outdoor Writers Association, and is the recipient of the New York State Council of Trout Unlimited's Professional Communications Award.

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