Thwack whish, pop, bang, crackle, sizzle, snap. Are these sounds from a scene in a batman movie? No, these are real, outdoor sounds heard in Vermont. Better than any artificial movie scene, we would like to hear more of them!
Since 2004, these are the sounds heard only one week every year at the Ethan Allen Firing Range, a National Guard facility and biathlete-training center in Jericho, Vermont. Mixed with the voices of thirty youths ages 11-18, and their [501(c) (3) nonprofit] Machia Wilderness Day Camp training instructors; these sounds are heard as the youth experience shooting arrows into targets, snap fly rod fishing lines with grace, shoot 22 rifles aiming for a tight circle, and shotgun blasts breaking clay pigeons into tiny fragments.
A crackling sound breaks the silence following the strike of a single allotted match lighting carefully and methodically stacked twigs and bark. Soon the sizzle of forest gathered edibles, cook in a sub earth pit, emitting a primal odor, enticing a well-earned appetite.
The snap of dead tree limbs breaking announces preparations of an outdoor overnight shelter. Silence, followed by a whispered story, then a chorus of shrieking screams followed by laughter cascades out through the forested camp as another ghost story settles in for a good night’s sleep. Meanwhile the campers head back home before nightfall.
The goal of the Machia Wilderness Camp is to introduce youth to the outdoor experience; to learn the life skills needed to survive in nature and learn to be productive keepers of the earth. The instructors challenge the campers to carry their learned skills into everyday life, and teach others what they have learned.
All programs involve interactive classroom activities combined with hands on outdoor learning. At the conclusion of the camp, participants, upon passing the test, receive required certifications needed to obtain VT hunting licenses. Included are the Vermont State Hunter Safety certification, Archery certification, and a Lets Go Fishing certificate. Along with teaching skills and imparting ethical awareness, the instructors encourage, cheer-lead, and help build self-confidence. Apprentices - campers selected from previous years, assist new campers in learning skills while expanding their own knowledge.
Building on the Vision
MWC began as a vision of Larry Machia, an avid hunter, construction engineer, mechanic, and log home-builder. At the time of its conception, a life coach working with Machia advised his wife Bonnie that even though the original vision was her husband’s, it would probably eventually become hers as well. And so it has. Larry envisioned a camp where youth would learn the life skills needed to survive in nature and learn to be productive keepers of the earth. Bonnie and the MWC board members, along with the instructors, continue to fulfill the vision, as well as plan to increase the program offerings and venue, adding such lesson plans as maple sugar-making, gardening (large gardens and teaching food self sufficiency), mechanical skills, woodworking, building, and forest management.
Machia Wilderness Camp (MWC) is looking forward to expanding their current programs and, more importantly, offer the lessons and experiences to a much greater number of youths (up to 300 youth per summer), as well as creating overnight programs and an eventual year round program. Meeting these objectives requires a land purchase of about one hundred acres. MWC is currently in the first phase of a capital campaign to raise funds for the land purchase, road and power installation, with any balance exercised for a main camp structure build on the property.
View Machia Wilderness Camp photos @
- Hunter Safety
- Turkey call and map reading lessons.
- Survival Skills lesson photos
- Archery lesson photos
- Fly Fishing lessons
Bernie publishes essays and photos reflecting Vermont values of Green and Clean and Community. Bernie’s website is litterwithastorytotell.blogspot.com.