of the Outdoors
By Ken Penrod
Just look at the fish our boys catch!
Many of us didn’t realize how well-off we were as youngsters,
especially when we had fathers that loved hunting and fishing
and shared those arts with us. We thought everyone lived the
same life. I can remember my dad carrying me along a trout
stream in Cameron County—at
the ripe-old age of five. It was so cold that my fishing line
kept freezing to the guides of the rod—and I really wanted to go
back to camp—but I would rather die than tell dad.
It was the same with hunting. I started at the age of 10
although I couldn’t carry a gun until I was 12. Like many in our
era, the clothing was always hand-me-downs and my boots were
always too small. I froze—but I never complained.
Those years with my father formulated the Ken Penrod of today.
I’m the luckiest man in the
USA. For the past 33-years I
have been a full time, professional outdoorsman. My guide
service, Ken Penrod’s Life Outdoor Unlimited, has grown to be
one of the most respected in the country. I’ve written six books
and hundreds of articles. I have provided hundreds of seminars
and taught many more hundreds how to fish—and shoot. My five
sons became expert anglers and hunters. My wife will even spend
a day in a tree stand with me. I hate to go anywhere that I
can’t catch something or shoot something.
My boys grew up and went on to their own family lives and my dog
died. Everyone knows that dogs and kids are my favorite people.
What to do?
Why not start a summer youth camp and teach other boys how to
fish and shoot? That’s exactly what I did. It’s called Camp
Sycamore. I’m a
genius. I figured out a way to borrow your kids and get paid for
So—for the past 22 years I have set-aside the month of July and
some of August to take eight boys per week to our lodge in
northern Pennsylvania to teach: photography; first aid; trout
fishing; smallmouth bass fishing; largemouth bass fishing; boat
operation & safety; sonar and GPS training; small bore shooting;
shotgun & centerfire instruction. We do a coyote hunt every
session and it’s rare that we don’t catch a rattlesnake or two.
The boys may not handle guns during the hunt but they all have
jobs to do. Only those that have attended for several years may
catch a snake.
Our boys learn to operate and respect the
weapons of today under strict supervision.
The boys are busy with many outdoor things from dawn to dark so
that’s the only kind of boy we want. There will be no basket
weaving or ghost stories at
We live-the-life here in Cameron County—the
same kind of life I did as a boy.
Our lodge is a five-bedroom “home” that sits alongside Wycoff
Run, a wonderful trout stream. Sinnamahoning Creek, a tributary
to the West Branch Susquehanna, is less than a mile away and is
our wet-wade, smallmouth bass training ground. There is an
impoundment, Stevenson Dam, about 20-minutes away where we
launch our Ranger bass boats and catch some fine fish—every
session. There are world-class elk roaming the mountains near us
and we will view them any time we wish. Black bear have become
common sightings and we even have them as visitors to our camp
from time to time. Then there are lots of wild turkey, many
white tail deer, porcupines and even a fisher from time to time.
Wild blueberries are very abundant and the boys must pick a
glass-full for our pancakes Thursday morning.
The boys also have chores to do around camp and we will not
allow arguing or fighting ever. Our kitchen table is large
enough for all to sit together and the food is the “best”
according to the participants. We have a large grand-room where
we conduct meetings and training. TV is available but there is
seldom time. The creek is the bathing facility and we employ
temporary toilets because I have “plunged” my last toilet.
We always have no less than three adults and most often four.
All of our counselors are first aid and GPS trained. The male
counselors of the group are either my guides or friends that are
expert like I am. For instance, Alan Mullis has been assisting
me for 10 years. He is a guide and an NRA certified shooting
instructor. Christy, Alan’s wife has been a ‘Camp mom” for
10-years and the boys love her to death. Guys like Dave Kerrigan
and Mike Baden are the kind of professionals we all want to be
around for advice and instruction. My wife Maggie has been “Camp
mom” for week one since we began this adventure. The boys always
want “Maggie’s sausage gravy.
This is an exclusive camp. You just can’t sign up for it. The
first step is the application process and a 50% deposit. We must
have a face-to-face interview to be sure we are all on the same
page. I just can’t take boys that can’t behave—and they must get
along well with others. When we decide that “Camp
and your son is a good fit, he will be assigned a session-week.
If we decide that
isn’t a good fit—we refund your deposit. We cannot refund any
money for any reason once he is accepted. The balance is due
60-days before the first session. One week cost $900 and two
weeks (they stay for the weekend) costs $2200.
You will bring your son to our residence on a Sunday evening and
retrieve them on a Friday evening. The boys travel to and from
camp with us. Parents are not welcome at Camp Sycamore
nor do we allow telephone calls except in an emergency.
Virtually 90% of all boys attending have returned for one or
more sessions and there are those that attended for 8-10
consecutive years. Some years we have a two week session set
aside. Some of our boys have gone on to be members of their
college shooting teams. One of them actually received a full
July isn’t that far away so if you know of anyone of interest, a
son or grandson, get in touch with me. I can be reached at
or at 240-447-2206. Visit our website for more information at
This is a week in July or August that your son will never
Oh—why didn’t I mention girls? I’ve never had enough interest to
have a girls only week. I would never mix them. Do you know what
makes a boy really stupid? A girl.
A day on the lake, in Ranger bass boats, to
learn the arts of “catching” sonar & GPS.