with John Annoni
Editor’s Note: John Annoni of Allentown, Pennsylvania, is an avid outdoorsman and a fulltime school teacher, as well as the founder of Camp Compass Academy. He is also the founder of the orange ribbon campaign called America’s Outdoor Heritage –Two Million Bullets.
We don’t abandon our children when they complete the 3-year curriculum of Camp Compass Academy. When our youngsters go to high school, we still support them by helping them with their academics, and they come back and help us teach our sixth graders. They become role models and mentors for our younger children. They are there to explain and prove that if students stay in our program for at least 3 years, they’ll learn a lot about the outdoors and get to go hunting and fishing. They become better people, make better grades and in general have happier and better lives. These youngsters who come out of our 3-year Camp Compass Academy program can show the results to the younger children. They can explain how Camp Compass Academy has helped them. They can encourage the younger members of Camp Compass Academy to stay in the program, go through the steps, learn the steps and study the academics that are required to go on great outdoor adventures.
So, instead of having adult teachers, who are trying to encourage young people, we have recent graduates of our program who already have gone through what these youngsters are about to go through for 3 years telling and demonstrating what they have learned, what adventures they have been on, and what benefits they have received, by being part of Camp Compass for 3 years. As the high-school students mentor the elementary-school students, our adult staff continues to mentor the high-school students, as well as the younger students. There is a continuous follow-up of outdoor knowledge, academic knowledge and moral and social lessons being taught, similar to the way an old bird dog teaches a young bird dog how to find, point and hold a covey of quail. By mentoring our younger students, those freshmen in high school possibly can earn pheasant hunts, goose hunts or antelope hunts.
Yes, we’re using hunting adventures as rewards for maintaining and continuing on with the Camp Compass Academy program, even as our students go through high school. When students reach the tenth grade, if they stay with our program, they may earn a squirrel hunt, a coon hunt or a bear hunt. Remember, these are great adventures of a lifetime for elementary and high school students – adventures they’ve heard about since they’ve been in the sixth grade. As they are promoted in grade levels, they get to go on hunts that the older kids have told them about, since they were in the sixth grade. These hunting trips are adventures most of their peer group who don’t attend Camp Compass Academy never get the opportunity to have.
One question we’re often asked is, “What happens if the youngster goes on a deer hunt, and he doesn’t like having to sit still and be quiet in a tree stand for an extended time?” Our answer is quite simple, “Ok, your next hunt will be a duck hunt or quail hunt.” The student who doesn’t like to deer hunt get all fired up again about a different type of hunting. We try and tailor our curriculum and our hunts to the likes and dislikes of our students. We want them to always have an outdoor adventure to look forward to, if they continue to learn the lessons that Camp Compass Academy teaches every week. We want to give our students a wide range of hunting and fishing experiences. Then, when they get older, they can choose one of these lifetime sports in which they’re the most interested.
For more info about Camp Compass Academy, go to www.campcompass.org.