Sunday, August 25, 2013

Kids Camp and other Adventures with TVTU:
It’s Not Always About the Fish!
By Andy Andrews
[Andy has volunteered his time and effort to spearhead the TVTU outings for a good number of years – his stories can fill books….Thank you Andy!]
If you are a typical TU member, paying your membership dues and excusing yourself from chapter meetings, projects and outings, well, you are really missing out on some great times. The now annual Kids Camp, sponsored by the Clackamas chapter, is just but one such great moment. Held at the end of July, this year’s Kids Camp was no exception and had its excitement, but it was, thankfully, quieter than past years!

You see, a few years back, three of us were sitting by the campfire late at night after the day’s activities - when from out of the darkness came the mantra of all those in distress "I wonder if you could help me?" said the voice from outside the ring of campfire light. This person stepped into the light and I started to believe I was having some sort of breakdown: there stood a lady dressed in a fine red evening gown, high heels and fine jewelry. Within seconds another lady appeared next to her dressed similarly in a blue gown with all the accessories. At this point some might be prone to inappropriately think of these ladies in the night, but rest assured do not! The two women mentioned that they had necessary celebratory beverages yet neglected to bring ice…and that they were simply attending a bridesmaid party where all the attendees were decked out in their finest. Their mission was truly – and oddly for a out of the way place - a search of ice!

So one might think this an odd or isolated occurrence indeed yet many of the regulars know better as another time a woman was abandoned by her friends because they felt she did not fit in with their group – literally members of her group hit the road, leaving her behind! Again it was TU to the rescue.

So back to this year’s Kids Camp – the camp kicks off on Thursday afternoon with teaching the basics of setting up a fly rod and casting. We get into a mixed bag with the kids attending - some have been brought to us seemingly for us to act as parental surrogates for the 3 days; the kids really could not care about fishing or conservation. Others, however, are ready to learn what we can teach. We, the volunteer adults, just all seem to find an area where we are able to contribute something for the camp. As for myself, I have no special talents for teaching fly fishing or anything else. This year I tried to do something a little different. After dark I gave a talk about 'Our Solar System'. It seemed a reasonable thing to do as we were sitting in an open field under a mass of stars. Anyway, I made the effort and tried to teach the order of planets by using the old saying of "Many Very Early Men Journeyed South Under New Planets" - each first letter representing the first letter of a planet from the sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (though the latter is no longer regarded as a planet). I ended up using a Casaba melon (which we ate the next morning) to represent the sun and a grapefruit to represent the earth to explain the earth’s rotation and tilt, to define the seasons on its journey around the sun. In my defense, two days earlier I had just come off a vacation in San Francisco so I had very little time to prepare to teach such a subject to 10 - 15 year olds (boys and girls). Some of the kids knew as much as I did…..or more! I give myself a 'D' for my presentation and for under estimating them! But we all learn when trying to teach – that is part of the reward.

The first full day of camp we spend the morning on the Collawash River, learning about water chemistry, aquatic organisms and riparian zones. After lunch, we take the kids fishing on the river where they are able to catch a few small trout. Later in the afternoon we return the kids to camp in time to learn about the art of fly tying before dinner.    

All went well and much was taught (and learned) during the course of the Camp – we were also excited to not have as much late evening excitement as in the past. As it sometimes happens though with such a gathering of kids – our adult/parenting skills were tested. We had one young man whose night was unceremoniously interrupted after he consumed a week’s worth of treats supplied to him by his parents – in one evening; the resulting 4 am gastrointestinal interruption was a lesson indeed! As luck would have it, his sleeping bag and tent were spared. There too was the inevitable out-of-line young man but Mike brought the situation under control very nicely. For the most part, those were the only real challenges we had with any of the young attending protégés – and look forward to next year’s Camp; we could certainly use your help! Remember – no special skills required! It is a good project and nicely organized by Clackamas River Chapter!

Mt. Hood from the north arm of Timothy [just out of the TU Marina]

Earlier this summer we had an outing to Timothy Lake. Our campsite at the North Arm Campground is divided by a trail that circles the lake. It is a nice spot farther away from the majority of the crowds that can be found at Timothy. It does however mean we see lots of hikers and bicyclists who are taking the 12 or so miles of path around the lake. Most of the hikers traveling around the lake are smart enough to leave time to walk around the lake before dark and carry water etc. However this year – as in years past - we could have made some money by selling water, lemonade, or cold beer to those unprepared folks ‘out for short hike’ – for once you leave the south side campgrounds there is no drinking water available to quench ones thirst. At least other than that supplied by TU members! Maybe a fund raising opportunity is in order! As it is we accept the occasional inconvenience and have learned to bring a bit extra for our impromptu visitors in need.

If you have been to the annual Timothy outing you know that across from our campsite on the lake, lies the ‘TU Marina’ where all our tubes, boats and pontoons lie at anchor. The ‘marina’ is also frog haven. Each evening, while enjoying tales [and ‘tails] around the fire, we expect a serenade of the frogs at the ‘marina’. Usually, one frog starts to croak and before long a whole flotilla of frogs have joined in the song. Then slowly the chorus dies down ending with only one frog croaking, and he (or she) soon stops. This event continues off and on throughout the night. We now have another seeming annual event to expect – the song of the wayward hiker! From the darkness beyond the fire ring on this night [see paragraph two above for recurring theme] came the call again - "I wonder if you could help me?" This time it was only about 10 p.m. and we were only just beginning to consider retiring for the night with the frog song when into the fire light stepped a young lady of around 25 years old. She and her friends planned to camp at Meditation Point which has a primitive campground – they dropped her off at the dam for a ‘short run’ to a rendezvous point where they were ferrying gear; after all she was a distance runner and it was a short distance to the pickup point. She had started her late evening run in plenty of time for the anticipated ‘short distance’ – unfortunately, not being familiar with the trail nor having prepped with water and a map – she missed the necessary turn. She continued into dark thinking she saw her friends up the lake - where she found us at the North Arm. And was lucky to do so with no light and all the spurs in the trail! She was now confused about where she was on the lake and how to get where she wanted to go, chilled from the running, and thirsty. She was sure – after getting some water – that if she had a flashlight she could find her way back to Meditation Point and to her friends. No deal on that one – no ‘maturing’ family man would allow that in a semi-remote and now dark area! TU to the rescue as volunteers [Mark and Dick to be exact] drove her back to the dam where she had hopes of getting into her friends truck for the night. While at the dam further weighing options with the TU volunteers, a flashlight with a voice came calling her name down the trail from the point. All turned out well as she rejoined her friends. Fortunately, she had found a camp full of 'elderly' gentlemen who had daughters and their only interest was her safety. Much like the Kid’s Camp story – this has become old hat with the Timothy Lake TU crowd as a few years before another TU member and I drove three teenage boys back the Hoodview Campground and to their parents who never knew they were missing (probably 11 pm before they were back in their camp)….glad we could help and can enjoy the tales each year!

Most all of our outings are full of fishing, eating and campfire conversations. Every outing does not have its rescue mission but I figure that once a year we encounter a memorable moment. It’s not that someone is never willing to assist others in need, but you do have to decide if you want to open that door and step through. Once you've stepped through an open door, it is really hard to back up and refuse assistance to the person who needs it. The decision and responsibility lies with us and that decision could be life changing for one party or the other. We been lucky and glad to help when we can – and not once did it really interfere with our fishing!

To that end – how WAS the fishing at Timothy you might ask? It was good; it was leisurely; and it is worth coming back for. Many fish to hand for those who chose to come wet a line – everything from dries, terrestrials and buggers took fish. Many chose site casting to cruising trout – others picked up fish on the ‘troll’. A few fish to 17” bent some rods and we got a demonstration from Terry [Clackamas Chapter] on his Hobie Cat kayak and how it handles. Food was exceptional between Andy, Dick and Terry sharing the chef duties and the campfires were a good time. Some folks stayed for the duration and others migrated in an out on their schedules.

We hope to see YOU there soon!
Andy Andrews - TVTU Outings Director