Fishing Camp 2017


Hey, it’s Maya the intern again, here to talk about fishing camp. It was my first day of work when I first heard about fishing camp in all of its glory. It was Levi’s first time organizing fishing camp, too, so we both were not quite sure what to expect. We started going into full speed planning mode at La Parota’s with Greg, Terry, Linda, and Tamara to learn about all the logistics and details that go into a successful camp.

I was amazed at all the coordination that goes on behind the scenes. First there is the money: Where are our sources of funding? At what point do teens need to pay? Then, there are the activities: Is there too much fishing or not enough? Do we have enough skilled volunteers to go over all the lessons? Is there enough downtime and how structured should it be? How should we group them? Which cabins do they stay in? All of these questions we answered in the meeting and more.

Over the next month, I watched as Levi executed all of the plans, delegating some of the more fun jobs to me. I got to make the gift bags, the nametags, and create fish jeopardy. I also learned how many groups, like the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), donate so much to the cause. I’ve never seen so much tackle or fishing line in my life!

Before I knew it, the kids were arriving. Fishing camp was here. All the planning (and stressing) put to the test. We started off with a fun casting challenge. We paired up the more experienced fishermen and women with the new ones to help teach using land fish. Once everyone was here, we had the fishing rodeo, which helped us form groups with a mixed range of skills (and attitudes). They had a few classes, some dinner, and were put to bed by the teens.

The next day was fishing, fishing, fishing, fishing, and finding natural bait. We had 5 rotations, each with teens and adults to help teach and shuffle them from place to place.  I got to teach natural bait, so I didn’t see the fishing. However, I did see many minnows, salamanders, macro-invertebrates, and more caught by each of the campers. I loved the small class sizes that helped me work with and teach every camper. After dinner, a casting contest, bedtime, breakfast, some thank you notes, and a few more activities, fishing camp had come to a close. All the parents had arrived to see the awards the campers received and take them back. We had done it!

All in all, I think my favorite parts of fishing camp ended up being the planning, hanging out with the teens and campers, and getting a better understanding of how camp works, even if it was just a weekend camp. The teens did such a great job handling the campers and I love the teen leader model 4-H uses. As hard and stressful as it was at some parts, I did love fishing camp and I hope to be back next year.

~Maya, NRE Intern




The Life of an Intern at Holiday Lake

My name is Maya Epelbaum, and I have been an intern for the Natural Resource Education program here at Holiday Lake for a little over a month and it has been quite the journey. I moved into the Pods and quickly learned that without Wifi, cell service, and a town close by, I would live a very different life than I had been in New Jersey.

And I love it. I love being able to read in my hammock overlooking the lake. I love hiking on the trails and exploring the camp. I love how I feel like I have a family here. We eat meals together, hang out in and out of work, and genuinely care about each other.

I also love the work itself. Most days, we are either in school teaching about types of animals (mammals, reptiles, birds, etc.), or at Holiday Lake teaching a much larger variety of classes. For example, my second day here as an intern Kelsey says, “you don’t mind holding snakes do you?” Next thing I knew, I was handling snakes, passing them around to 5th and 6th graders. One of the students asked me, “Were you scared when you first started?” Little did she know that it was, indeed my first day, and yes, I was a little scared. Luckily, I made it through. It wasn’t until the third time I took the turtles and snakes around the classroom that one decided to poop on me!

My favorite part about school groups is seeing how much fun the children can have while also learning so much about nature. Sometimes I get jealous of some of the children we teach because I know our programs make a lasting difference and do not exist everywhere. Mostly I am grateful for the opportunity Holiday Lake has given me to share some of my favorite parts of nature and 4-H with other children.

When we are not working with school groups, its play time in the nature room. Levi and Kelsey give me a ton of freedom to do whatever I want to in order to improve the NRE program and the Nature room (and even write blog posts!). I have been able to write curricula for botany, arachnids, and my personal favorite, an environmental stewardship class. If there is information I would like to see taught, I can create a class about it. I was also really excited that they let me start up the composting program here again and hope to see it continue when I leave.

Between writing and teaching, I go through all the boxes in the nature room. Each box holds a new surprise, whether it be preserved spiders, mammalian skulls, or shiny minerals. Organizing and cleaning can sometimes get tedious, but Kelsey and Levi always help make it fun. Some of the more interesting things I have done since coming here include: 1) designing a turtle enclosure, which included transplanting a tree 2) finding worms to feed our turtles and compost, 3) thawing mice and feeding the snakes them to the snakes, 4) helping a snake shed, and 5) tripping while holding a paint can. And while sometimes I can’t believe that I’m doing these things as part of my job, I can’t imagine I’d rather be anywhere else.

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