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.
A question we’re often asked is, “How is the academic curriculum a part of Camp Compass Academy?” We require all of our students to bring their progress reports and their report cards to us at Camp Compass. We know if we don’t ask kids to show us how they are doing academically, then they’ll think that academics aren’t important to be a part of Camp Compass. If one of our students comes in and says, “I got a D in this subject.” One of our counselors will sit down with that young person and ask, “What’s going on? What caused you to get a D?” This conversation allows the youngster to learn how to talk to an adult about a problem they are having that may or may not be school related. This interaction also gives the mentor an opportunity to talk with and guide the student and to try and help bring that D up on the next report card.
We believe we have one of the best adult-mentoring programs in the country for young people. There are all types of programs available and help for children who are very affluent, who are very deprived, who create social problems, who get in trouble, or who come from poverty areas. There are very few, if any at all, mentoring programs for what we call the “bubble students” – those not from extremely-wealthy or very-poor families. Those youngsters are the ones that society often forgets in-between these two groups. This group of young people needs mentoring also.
However, if you walk down some of the streets where these children live, you may classify them as “at risk children.” We say that our Camp Compass Academy kids don’t have the typical opportunities that most youngsters have to climb trees, to watch geese come into a corn field or to go fishing or hunting. If we as outdoor people believe that the outdoor experience enhances the quality of life, then the students we work with are at risk of never being able to leave the concrete and asphalt to see the streams, the woods, the fish and the wildlife that we all cherish.
One of our biggest problems at Camp Compass Academy is we have a waiting list of students who want to participate in this program, but we don’t have enough money or personnel to teach them about the outdoors. Our orange ribbon campaign that we call our Two Million Bullets is our attempt to get all outdoors men and women to wear orange ribbons on their caps or their shirts to show others and to remind others that the young people of this country are the future of the shooting and outdoor sports. Unless we start mentoring these young people, much of what we cherish as outdoors men and women may vanish from our society. The orange ribbon says, “I not only care about hunting/fishing, but I also care about the next generation of hunters and anglers, and the young people who participate in the outdoor lifestyle.”
On the Two Million Bullets section of our webpage you will read testimonies of children who have come through our program and are now living successful lives. They tell what the Camp Compass Academy has meant to them. Many of our kids go on to college, join the Armed Forces, become police officers and truck drivers or work at Domino’s Pizza. We try and help the students at Camp Compass Academy reach whatever goals they have for life and become the very-best people they can be. We believe these life lessons can be best taught through outdoor experiences. We feel so blessed to have a corporate sponsor like Mossy Oak and want to thank and the people at Mossy Oak for being a part of every part of Camp Compass Academy.
For more info about Camp Compass Academy, go to www.campcompass.org.