Have you ever returned as an adult to a summer camp or destination that you loved as a child, only to be mildly disappointed at how the reality compares with your memories? What if you could give your teenager the gift of an experience that will not only teach them skills they'll use for life, but that will never tarnish as the years go by? You can: It's called the NRA Whittington Center Youth Adventure Camp.
Yes, the above is a bold claim, but we can back it up: Each year, campers return time and again until they "age out," and then they come back as counselors. There are families whose parents met as campers decades ago, entire generations that were first forged during the magical two weeks spent at the Adventure Camp in the shadow of New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo mountains. What makes the Whittington Center Youth Adventure Camp so special?
First, there's the breathtaking natural beauty of the area. Situated on 33,000 acres of high semi-arid wilderness, the Whittington Center features stark rocky promontories, fragrant pinon forests, tawny grasslands and shaded valleys. The countryside teems with wildlife, from mule deer, to pronghorn antelope, to wild turkeys (and even the occasional black bear).
Second, there's the world-class curriculum. The Youth Adventure Camp lasts two weeks; the first 10 days are spent learning everything outdoors—and we do mean everything. There's firearm safety and marksmanship with rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders and handguns. There are lessons in archery and camping skills, including raising tents, outdoor cooking, orienteering and survival. There's wildlife identification and the essentials of ethical hunting. Instruction is courtesy of highly qualified and thoroughly vetted experts in each individual field; it's tailored to be both challenging and accessible.
Then, there's the adventure of it all. The last several days of the camp find the teens in a true backcountry camping experience. Miles from the nearest cable TV or wi-fi signal, the teens must pitch their own campsites and cook their own food. During the day, they hike and shoot the various long-range courses of fire; at night, they bond with friends they'll have for the rest of their lives. An experience like this changes one for the better, and for good.
There are only two, two-week sessions per summer, and as you might imagine, spaces fill up quickly and well in advance. Although at the time of this writing there were still some waiting list spots open for 2017, future campers should probably also apply for the 2018 sessions. Click here for more information and to apply!