Spring Trout Camp

By Larry R. Hull

As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Prov27:17)
And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Prov 22:6)

Take two Old Testament verses from the book of Proverbs, and one New Testament verse from the book of Mark, and what do you get?  True North Annual Trout Camp.

For the past eight consecutive years, CSF’s True North Chapter (Lansing, MI) has sponsored their annual spring “trout camp”.  It is a time when a shared passion for the outdoors (and trout fishing) draws men and boys to the premiere trout fishing streams of Michigan’s northwestern lower peninsula.   Each May, for two and a half days, they enjoy camaraderie, cooking and campfires.  And, while trout fishing and the love of God’s creation are the reasons to congregate, neither rain, cold nor fishless days can diminish the rewards of attending.

Helping believers to grow and mature in their faith (discipling) is a core value of the True North Chapter of CSF.  But, they recognize that effective discipling is only possible within an environment of meaningful relationships.   And, meaningful relationships require transparency and trust.  Those kinds of relationships are not often built sitting next to someone at a pot luck dinner in a church basement.  But, after a few days of sharing a stream, a tent and some campfire conversation after dinner, relationships start to flourish.  Trout Camp participants develop relationships that lead to mutual strength, accountability and support.

Fathers that bring their sons (regardless of their ages) find two major benefits.  First, they are able to develop more meaningful one-on-one private relationships with their sons.  Secondly, sons can witness and experience wholesome role-modeling . . . their own fathers and other Christian men enjoying “manly” recreation without having to resort to worldly vices and similar distractions.

Eliminating impediments to participation is a key component to the success of Trout Camp.  If you don’t know how to fish . . . no problem.  Each year Trout Camp organizers arrange for experts to conduct on-site demonstrations and workshops.  Nationally renowned trout fishing author, Jim Bedford, volunteers his time to conduct a workshop in the use of spinning gear to catch trout in streams.  He typically will spend the entire weekend with the group providing personal advice and instruction as necessary, and teaching participants how to build their own fishing spinners.

Other experts have been brought in to demonstrate and explain fly fishing strategies, techniques and equipment.  Streamer fishing, dry flies, wet flies and even “mousing” strategies for big brown trout after dark have been discussed.  It is a common event to have some youngster, who had never fly fished before, catch his very first trout on a fly.  The bonding that this first-time event creates between father and son defies description.

Camp organizers provide for all food preparation needed for three meals per day.  There is no reason to skip Trout Camp just because a person doesn’t have a trailer full of camping and cooking equipment.  And, if someone is in need of waders, fishing equipment or a tent, just let the organizers know.  Often times, they can solve that problem with just a quick phone call or short email.

Typically, Trout Camp will attract from 25 to 40 participants.  Pre-registration is required, and the fee for 2015 was $45 per person.  The fee covered all camping fees associated with the U. S. Forest Service campground, as well as providing for all meal expenses.

The personnel requirements for putting together an effective Trout Camp include:  camp organizer/publicist, registrar, head cook with two assistants, cook tent set-up and take down crew (minimum 4 men).  Kitchen Patrol and dish washing duties are accomplished through volunteers from the participants.

Trout Camp may sound like fun, and it certainly is!  But, it is fun with a purpose.  That purpose is to provide a means and an atmosphere for men to develop deeper, meaningful relationships with each other, as well as, with their sons.  These relationships will foster transparency and trust which lead to discipleship.  Men need to disciple each other and hold each other accountable.  Fathers need to disciple their children and provide a steadfast example of Christian manhood.

What do you get when you combine two verses from Proverbs with one from Mark?
Godly men and Godly fathers!