Mentorship Group Aims to Get Kids Outdoors

Kayaking at the Eau Pleine flowage

Meet and Greet Scheduled for Nov. 11

Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) A local mentorship group is aiming to get kids outdoors and teach them skills that will last a lifetime.

Kids and Mentors Outdoors (KAMO) is a Wisconsin nonprofit with multiple chapters throughout the state. The Yellow River Chapter in Marshfield organizes seasonal group activities and pairs its diverse group of mentors with kids for one-on-one activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing, hunting, snowshoeing, and more.

“Our goal is to assist kids that want to get outside. Sometimes that may require a little nudge from the parents, but in many cases, the kids don’t have a chance to do so,” said Brad Allen, chapter president. “We want to offer parents and especially the kids a chance to let them put down the phones and games, and take a little step at a time to learn the greater things in life that outdoor recreation has to offer.”

Submitted photo

But the program isn’t just about learning the skills to hunt and fish, but also how to be good stewards of the state’s natural resources.

“We have folks who are very educated in biology of birds, plants, land and water,” Allen said. “These folks can help teach stewardship of the land, what resources are in danger, which ones are a danger, and how to respect the natural resources we have right in our backyard.”

KAMO first began as the idea of Wisconsin outdoor columnist Mark Walters, who noticed that fewer kids were enjoying outdoor activities around the time there was also declining revenue for hunting and fishing license sales. After issuing a challenge to readers, the first KAMO chapters were born in 2007. Today there are seven, with plans for expansion.

The Yellow River Chapter has around 9-14 adult mentors available, and depending on the activity, attracts up to 30 kids for group functions and a core group of 12. These “KAMOKIDS” are typically 9-17 years old, or younger if accompanied by an adult.

Due to difficulties surrounding logistics, an initial Marshfield/Stevens Point chapter was dropped, but the idea for a Marshfield chapter persisted.

Participating in a UWSP program called “snapshot” along the edge of the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest.

“After several months of meetings and with help from the state board, meetings with other chapters and talking with like-minded people, we were officially named the Yellow River Chapter,” said Allen.

The Yellow River Chapter officially kicked off in January of this year with its first group activity taking place on a warm January day at a property in Lindsey.

“We had food over the fire, hot chocolate, a nature walk, some educational talks, and one of the other chapter members brought a few air rifles for the kids to learn some safety tips and target practice,” he said.

The chapter also went ice fishing at Lake Dexter and spent a family day at the Eau Pleine Flowage where kids tried their hands at kayaking and fishing, plus some good old-fashioned swimming.

Volunteer work at the Little Plover River.

The chapter gave back by helping the DNR with cleanup at McMillan Marsh and the UWSP with reconstructing the channel on the Little Plover River to protect the floodplain. It will also help with fall cleanup at the Upham Mansion for Make a Difference Day on Oct. 26.

“We are so very happy with what we have accomplished in the first year!” said Allen, adding that more mentors and kids are welcome to join. “When we ask for people to help mentor, we are not asking for full time commitment. We are very low-key and appreciate anything that anyone can do for and with the kids. A couple times a year is a blessing.”

There’s no cost to join the group, with many activities covered through donations and gifts from those who support the mission. Those who are interested in becoming part of KAMO can check out each chapter at www.kamokids.org.

“It’s what we do with children now that creates the memories that they will carry throughout their lives,” said Allen.

For more information on the Yellow River Chapter, attend a meet and greet with group representatives on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. at Nutz Deep II. Email Brad Allen at [email protected] to RSVP. Follow the latest activities at the Yellow River Chapter Facebook page.