Anyone who has truly been raised hunting knows that it's more than just filling some tags once a year — it's a way of life. It's about sharing a passion for the outdoors with family, adopting an active lifestyle, developing a conservation ethic and consistently honing those hunting skills.
And that's what David and Karin Holder are teaching kids through their Raised at Full Draw youth bowhunting camps.
Fifteen years ago, David began working with a camp in Montana where kids learned elk calls, and he eventually started incorporating some hunting tips into the instruction. With insight from his sons who were attending the camp, David learned that the kids were most interested in the practical lessons they could apply in the field.
So, the Holders formed their own bowhunting camp — Raised at Full Draw — and are now entering their fifth year in Iowa and have expanded to Illinois and Montana.
A Family Affair
Raised at Full Draw camps are run completely by volunteers — mostly friends and family. "One of my best instructors is my kid," David says. Warren, 21, has been bowhunting his whole life and is close enough in age to relate well to the campers who are between 12 and 18 years old.
Rather than just finding people with bowhunting experience, David also ensures that volunteers can connect with kids and leave a lasting positive impact on their lives. They strike the perfect balance of fun and structure for an exciting experience that results in Bowhunter Education Certification. "I treat the kids like I'm their dad," says David. "I can be strict when it comes to lights out, but I'm horsing around having fun with them the next day."
Calling All Kids
Whether kids have been bowhunting for years or have never picked up a bow before, there's something for everyone at RAFD. "It's for ALL kids — no experience needed," David says. "But we make sure we're giving return campers something new."
RAFD has a high return rate, so the Holders created a leadership program for advanced campers who are hand-picked and empowered to mentor other kids. "We see the older kids helping the younger kids, and we encourage it," David says. "There's just something that feels good about helping someone else."
The co-ed camps are capped at 50 attendees each to maintain a ratio of six to eight kids per instructor and maximize participation.
Beyond proper shot placement, treestand safety and other bowhunting skills, kids learn the ethics of hunting and a respect for wildlife. They also leave with new friends. By the end of camp, all the tents have moved in closer together, and kids who just met are palling around like old buddies.
Following the archery tournament that rounds out the experience, parents are invited to attend an award ceremony on the final day of camp.
The 4-day, 3-night camps come with an affordable price tag of $175 — which includes a membership to the Pope and Young Club — because the Holders want all kids to have the opportunity to experience Raised at Full Draw.
The Winterset, Iowa camp is at full capacity for 2017, but spots are still available for the two other camps:
- Quincy, Ill. — June 22-25, 2017
- Augusta, Mont. — July 20-23, 2017
For more information and to register, click here.
You can also catch David, Karin, Warren and Easton when Raised Hunting returns to the Outdoor Channel for its fourth season beginning in July.