74 Youths Experience Great Outdoors Activities
It was with a renewed sense of vigor and enthusiasm that the Fulton County Sportsmen for Youth undertook this year’s coordination and planning of Youth Field Day. Their hard work paid off and was not only met with smiles but with promises of returning for next year’s annual event.
Brothers Kieran and Cooper Ritz were among those who pledged to continue attending future Youth Field Day events organized in part by local Sportsmen for Youth President Jim Fittry, Vice President Robert Strait and Secretary/ Treasurer John Johnston.
Eleven-year-old Kieran, a sixth grader at Southern Fulton Elementary, was excited to share the news regarding how much he learned at the fly casting and tying demonstration overseen by local fishing enthusiasts Dave and Mona Lippert and Darv Stutz of Falling Spring Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
However, Kieran and Cooper, the sons of Todd and Wendy Ritz of Buck Valley, soon learned the excitement wasn’t over for the day as they still had to take their turn at shooting .22 rifles and muzzleloaders and the Cherokee run, comprised of the tomahawk throw, shooting BB guns and slingshots.
The Ritz brothers were among 74 area children between the ages of 10 and 15 who attended Saturday’s Youth Field Day held at Sinoquipe Scout Reservation. Attendance was not only the largest in recent years but since the program’s inception here years ago.
“Sinoquipe was the perfect location to hold the event. We had plenty of room for the stations we had. We also had access to a stream for trout fishing, and the Susquehanna Water Fowlers had the lake for their retrievers. Different stations required different settings, and Sinoquipe was able to provide every layout or setting that we required,” said Fittry.
Participants visited a total of 13 stations using a round-robin style rotation. Trap shooting with the Fulton County Pistol and Rifle Club; presentations by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and National Wildlife Turkey Federation; all-terrain vehicle safety with Buchanan State Forest forest rangers; along with trapping, fishing, bluebird box building and archery rounded out the activities offered Saturday. Additional passive stations, including Keystone Country Store, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and a Civil War display by Mike Klinepeter were also on hand.
Fittry stated he wasn’t sure if he could pinpoint a favorite activity because all of the children he encountered that day had a different opinion on what was the most fun. “Of course most kids love shooting and fishing, but they were having just as much fun at all the other stations,” said Fittry. “My main goal was to make sure that all the kids had a great time and want to come back next year. I feel we exceeded our goal. Everywhere I looked kids were laughing and having a great time.”
In the months leading up to Youth Field Day, organizers were busy not only planning the day’s activities but raising the funding necessary to pull off an event of this magnitude. Donations ranging from T-shirts and hats for participants to financial contributions totalling more than $5,000 were crucial in making the event a success, said Fittry, who noted a sizeable $2,000 donation from the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Harrisonville got the ball rolling. Other large financial contributions were also received from the Bedford County chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mason Dixon chapter of Safari Club International and the Fulton County Pistol and Rifle Club. The Fulton County Sportsmen League was also instrumental in helping offer the first-ever fishing station to participants.
“If not for all of our donors and sponsors, this event would never have happened,” said Fittry, who also noted Forbes Road graduate Olivia Mills opened the event with the national anthem and the Hustontown Volunteer Fire Co. was on scene all day in the event medical assistance was needed. Janet Fittry and Cindy Strait were recognized as preparing and serving up the free lunch provided to both participants and their parents.
“We are just so grateful for everything that everyone did. It’s all about the kids. That’s why everybody did this, the kids are our future. We are already starting to think of next year and looking forward to the planning stages,” he added.
Organizers are planning to hold a wrap-up meeting on June 27 when they will discuss any changes or possible additions to the 2014 Youth Field Day schedule. Meetings for next year’s event are slated to begin in February, and any local residents or organizations willing to offer a hand are urged to contact Fittry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It takes lots of people to make an event like this a success. Any help is welcome,” he concluded.