Just because school is out for the summer doesn’t mean the learning stops. For many kids, summer means barbecues, ice pops and summer camp. Attending camp is an exciting opportunity to forge friendships and learn new activities like canoeing, horseback riding and archery.
Archery is a popular pastime at many summer camps. It’s one of the safest sports. The Archery Trade Association’s Archery Safety Brochure lists archery’s 2017 injury rate as .057 injuries per 1,000 participants. The only sports with slightly safer rates are bowling, badminton and table tennis.
In addition to its stellar safety record, archery is a fun lifelong sport that provides the perfect athletic outlet for campers. Many camps choose to offer archery to attendees because of its broad appeal. Every summer it can be found at 4-H clubs, parks and recreation events and general summer camps, and there are even archery-specific camps.
After the global pandemic shut down most camps during the summer of 2020, campers were thrilled to be back at it this year. However, with continued COVID-19 concerns, most operated with some enhanced safety precautions in place like wearing masks, remaining outdoors and social distancing.
After canceling last year’s camp, the South Boston Recreation Department in South Boston, Virginia, hosted its 15th annual archery camp in August. A record number of 81 kids participated. The event culminated in team competitions where the winners were awarded medals.
The Easton Foundations hosted several archery camps at the Easton-Newberry Sports Complex near Gainesville, Florida. Camps ranged from a half or full day to a week long. Both beginning and experienced archers learned about the sport and safety, and they improved their skills through games and team challenges. The camps had safety protocols in place such as each student using their own equipment and targets spaced to allow for social distancing, and all unvaccinated participants and coaches wore masks on the indoor range.
For some archers, a love of the sport begins by trying it out for the first time at camp. The Adirondack Camp for Kids in Adirondack State Park in New York has archery as one of its many activities. Throughout the four-week program, participants learned the basics at the camp’s archery range. The camp takes teaching seriously. Every camp staff member is certified as a National Archery Association Level 1 instructor. The lead instructor is an NAA Level 3 coach.
In order to give kids a camp experience while balancing the risks of COVID-19, some camps chose hybrid events. The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia canceled its camp last year. This year, the department decided to shorten its traditional five-day camp to a single, action-packed day. Organizers invited 55 kids and held most of the events outside, like fishing, target shooting with air guns and archery.
While there are lots of camps for kids, they don’t get to have all the fun. For example, Becoming an Outdoors-Woman is a nonprofit, educational program that offers hands-on workshops to adult women. Appropriately called BOW, the program often hosts archery camps. Participants can sign up for archery-specific courses or attend a multiday camp that gives women the opportunity to learn several outdoor skills like fishing, butchering, field medicine and more. BOW programs are through individual states’ wildlife management agencies. Check to see if there is one in your area.
It’s always a bummer when summer ends, but that doesn’t mean the camp experience has to. Many archery shops offer lessons and leagues throughout the year for beginning and experienced archers. You can also take the skills you learned at camp and keep shooting at community and shop ranges. That’s the great thing about archery. Once you’re hooked, you can keep shooting.