Boys 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 it.

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 Camp Sycamore. 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 Sycamore” and your son is a good fit, he will be assigned a session-week. If we decide that Camp Sycamore 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 scholarship.

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 kenpenrod@comcast.net or at 240-447-2206. Visit our website for more information at www.penrodsguides,com,

This is a week in July or August that your son will never forget.

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.