Boys to Men—One
Outdoors Life Style
Ken Penrod’s Summer
By Ken Penrod
The boys wet-wade several times each week for smallmouth bass to
18-inches long. we always
release our bass, after photos.
When was the last time
that you, during a 5-7 day span, caught native brook trout and
“hold-over” rainbows from a mountain stream just a few yards
from your bedroom? How far would you travel to see world-class
elk and very large black bear? Have you ever caught 18-inch
smallmouth and an 18-inch largemouth bass on back-to-back casts?
As day turns grey, the howl of a coyote sends a chill down your
spine and camouflaged boys and men prepare for one of the most
exciting moments in any hunter’s life. Black bear are
commonplace in the region and to see a sow with three cubs,
close up, is a treat beyond compare. “Mom” grunts commands and
the little ones find trees to climb while wide eyed youngsters
scramble for cameras and binoculars. Did anyone bother to teach
you sonar; GPS; map-reading; first aid; photography; shot gun
skills and fly-casting in one week? Few adult readers will nod
in the affirmative—but I’m talking about young boy experiences.
I raised five sons and a few dozen that also called me “dad,”
so, after my boys became parents and moved on with their
lives—there was a void in my life that I needed to fill. The
cool thing about the boys we raised was their friends. They
flocked to our home because we did “cool” stuff, and those boys
went fishing with us—or just hung out at our home. We always
talked about fishing and hunting—and soon they grew up and had
boys of their own.
I’ve been a full-time
hunting and fishing guide since 1982, after a good-life in the
construction industry, if that’s at all possible. My life-love
has always been in the outdoors world so I formed a fishing
guide service that became quite popular—and soon after that--we
decided to teach our skills to boys by conducting a summer youth
camp, from my lodge in northern Pennsylvania, for those between
the ages of 12 and 18. What a great idea—now I can teach fishing
to youngsters and get paid for it!
is 19-years old and I know that endeavor is the favorite
decision I ever made, including the six books I wrote and the
numerous awards that I received over the years. When a man is
able to watch other boys become men, other than their siblings,
the result is quite rewarding.
Our forum at
is unlike any other. We will not sing songs around a campfire;
we do not weave baskets; we don’t tell ghost stories and we have
no time for TV cartoons. This is a camp for those well behaved
youngsters that are infatuated with fishing and gun skills and
safety. We only take six or eight each week, but we want the
right-kind, so we interview each other prior to acceptance.
We spend at
least one day on a nearby lake where the guys fish for bass
aboard Ranger bass boats.
We are fishing or
shooting every minute, from dawn to dark. The boys are tired at
dark and they don’t need much urging to “hit the sack.” For
example, on Wednesdays, we leave the cabin at 5:00 AM so that we
can be on a nearby lake at dawn, fishing from Ranger or Express
boats until high-noon. Back at the lodge, we have lunch and the
boys fish for trout in a stream just 30-feet outside our front
After a “nap” which
seldom happens, we go to the Sinnamahoning Sportsmen’s Club for
shooting instruction at a first-class range where the boys shoot
both rim-fire and center-fire rifles and pistols under the
strict supervision of three adults including NRA certified
shooting instructor Alan Mullis, and Ken, Mike Baden, Captain
Dave Kerrigan, tournament angler Jim Spencer or other extremely
experienced shooters. Gun safety is the key element and it
matters not if some of them never hunt. After diner we go to a
nearby river where the guys wade and cast Mizmo tubes for
smallmouth bass until dark.
Our “camp” always has at
least three adults present, all trained in first aid and GPS.
Boys are never allowed to leave sight of the cabin and they may
never handle a gun without supervision.
Of the many great things
we do here, the coyote hunt, one evening every week, is the
favorite although the shotgun training is a very close
second--and we catch rattlesnakes quite often that are released
unharmed. Not to worry mom—the younger boys must stay in the
vehicles and there is no danger to the guys.
Ok—sounds boring so far
but consider this: on the average we catch 30 eatable trout each
week; a hundred or so smallmouth bass to 20-inches long and
dozens of largemouth bass. Bass must be released but we try to
get good photos of the boy’s catch. The average weekly wild game
sightings are: 4-5 black bear; 3-5 rattlesnakes; 20-30 elk;
hundreds of whitetail deer; several flocks of turkey; a
porcupine or two and on occasion, a fisher.
I usually tell the
mothers that their boys will gain weight during our sessions and
I’m correct most times. Camp-moms prepare hot breakfasts, buffet
style lunches and grand meals for dinner that will include
steaks, BBQ chicken, lasagna; venison burgers and hot dogs. Each
boy has his own bed and they have camp duties to perform every
World class elk are seen by camp attendees every week.
One of my favorite
stories is about a chubby, talkative 12-year old that had never
handled a gun before attending my camp. Fast forward seven
years, all of which he returned to this camp--and that boy,
turned adult, received a full scholarship to a major university
because of his shooting skills.
Our sessions are conducted during the month of July, sometimes
into August. If you are interested, contact Ken Penrod at
For additional information, go to our website at
and click on “Youth Camp.” We have several slots available so
act quickly. There is nothing like this, anywhere, and it’s a
week that your son will never forget. Some boys stay for two
weeks. We are not discriminating against the girls but I just
can’t mix them at this age. Do you know what makes a 12-year old
boy act stupid? It’s a 12-year old girl.