It’s been a quiet week in Rabun Gap, except for the excited shouts coming from the 24 young people participating in an unforgettable event known simply as “Trout Camp.”
Now in its 15th year, Trout Camp is a program of the Georgia Council of Trout Unlimited, with the cooperation of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service.
Since its inception, some 360 youths, ages 12-15, have participated in the week-long camp, which is held at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in northeast Georgia’s Rabun County.
Each camp is limited to 24 campers, with two campers being chosen by each of the 12 Georgia chapters of Trout Unlimited.
Long-time trout fishers and Trout Unlimited members Charlie and Kathy Breithaupt have been involved with Trout Camp since it’s inception in 2004. Charlie serves as director of the camp, while Kathy is coordinator.
“The exposure that these young people get to conservation and trout fishing is priceless,” Charlie said.
Kathy said the camp provides campers with hands-on exposure to what she describes as the “overall experience of fishing and conservation.”
It’s a seed that’s planted when they’re young, added Mack Martin of Atlanta Fly Fishing School, one of more than 25 volunteer mentors from across the state who give their time to make Trout Camp happen.
One of those mentors was me, and I had a blast.
Rodney Tumlin, a member of the Cohutta Chapter of Trout Unlimited (which meets in Kennesaw) and the AP environmental science teacher at North Paulding High School, is on-site director for the camp.
“I love everything about Trout Camp,” he said. “We have graduated a lot of great young people. They’re the future of conservation.”
What do the campers do during camp week? They enjoy a broad curriculum that includes not only casting and fly tying instruction but also entomology, in-stream insect sampling, stream craft, hands-on stream rehabilitation work, trout stocking, a visit to a trout hatchery and (of course) fishing.
Lots of fishing!
The fishing is eagerly anticipated by the kids, to say the least. Each camper is helped by an experienced mentor. Participants fish a number of different types of water, and by week’s end every camper had caught trout. In fact, there’s nothing more fun than helping a young person catch and land his or her first trout. I can attest to that from personal experience!
To learn about area Trout Unlimited chapters and the programs that they offer, visit GeorgiaTU.org.