Kids that come to Kids Outdoor Zone (KOZ) summer camps have a desire to learn about the outdoors, hunting, fishing and adventure. Many are uncertain if they will be able to do any of the activities, but they want to try. The average kid today spends 40 minutes a week outside and 70 hours a week staring at a screen. More than half have no father or male role models where most outdoor skills are traditionally passed down. These statistics continue to rise and the kids today grow further and further from the excitement of the outdoors. They are raised on asphalt farms never knowing the heritage of their grandfathers.
There are groups out there working to turn back the electronic tide. KOZ trains men in churches across America how to use the outdoors as an outreach tool for kids in their churches and communities. Every week, men across America are engaging KOZ kids on a regular basis, training them in hunting, shooting, fishing, survival and more. The men also get a rare opportunity to have the kids attention and mentor them in life lessons.
The KOZ National Headquarters in Austin, Texas also plans weekend and week-long outdoor adventures camps year round. The summer camps are week-long trainings in shooting sports, archery, hunters education, survival and the list goes on. They also include actual hunting for wild hogs, rabbit and exotics. The kids process and eat everything they harvest.
Early on, KOZ instructor volunteers learned some hard lessons. Gear that is sized for adults can be either too powerful or too uncomfortable for a kid to learn the proper techniques. If a first time shooter is handed a .270 with an adult stock, they can be frightened to ever shoot again. A bow that is heavy on the draw or too big for a first time shooter can also discourage the desire to learn more, shoot more.
Since 2013 the NRA Foundation has provided the tools KOZ uses today to train the kids at their camps. The instructors are now able to utilize the best tools in an adjustable fit or youth model during the trainings.
The Genesis bow is the standard for all beginners and early archery shooters. This year they included the Fred Bear Apprentice bow. Those bows, along with Easton arrows, Delta, Reinhart and the Shooter Buck targets the KOZ leaders created a solid archery training course.
The H&R 1871 Handi-Rifle Super Light in a .223 has become the KOZ go to rifle for the field. The right rifle for the right game animals. A single shot rifle that is an absolute tack driver.
The Ruger 22/45 Target Rim Fire pistol in .22LR has been the beginner training pistol followed by the Sig Sauer P229 9mm on the pistol course. Both are a ton of fun to shoot and they kids learn everything they need to know about the care and handling of a handgun.
All the ammo is Winchester and they never need to worry about it failing.
This year skeet and clays were added. A simple course but the Remington Model 11-87 Sportsman Youth Compact 20GA 21” made all the difference. They used the Winchester 20 gauge shells in a #8 shot 7/8 Oz. Again, the right tool for the right job.
It takes a lot of time, training, patience and commitment to take a kid who has never held a rifle or a bow in their hands to the proficiency of safety and harvesting an animal. The NRA Foundation has helped KOZ train hundreds of kids to do just that. The gear provided is also used at monthly meetings of KOZ to keep the kids engaged and excited about the sport of hunting and outdoor adventure.
We have a responsibility to pass on the heritage of the outdoors. Every one of us must participate. It can be in many forms: taking your kids hunting or fishing, a grandchild, a neighbor and his son or daughter. We all must give a bit of our time to volunteer or mentor, speak at a meeting or club about the outdoors. There are also our resources. Allow someone to fish your pond or hunt your field. Write a check to the NRA Foundation, join, go to their banquets and functions.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children.”
Truer words have rarely been spoken
Founder/Kids Outdoor Zone, KOZ
“No Kid Left Inside”