Twenty years ago, Marion and Judy Creech began a journey that is still fulfilling and energizing them today.
In the early 1990s, Marion Creech was among the 11 adult volunteers from Kentucky that became nationally certified instructors in 4-H Shooting Sports, a program that was just gaining traction across the state. During the national certification process, he and the other Kentucky participants decided to start a camp to teach young Kentuckians how to safely handle and maintain shooting equipment.
“It’s very safety oriented, and it’s been a total success,” said Creech, who is the state coordinator for the 4-H Shooting Sports Education Program, which includes camp.
His wife, Judy, also has been involved since the beginning as a member of the camp’s planning committee and currently is a nationally certified coordinator and instructor for the camp. She is a program assistant for 4-H youth development in Nelson County with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
At camp, 4-H’ers learn proper safety measures in each of the program’s six disciplines: rifle, pistol, trap, black powder, archery and hunter challenge. Young people who do not have their hunter education card from Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources take classes during camp to receive certification. The card is a requirement to obtain a hunting license once young people reach a certain age. Those who have their cards go to classes focusing on appreciation of the outdoors and the environment
“The camp provides a fun, hands-on learning opportunity in an outdoor setting where our youth learn about how to responsibly and safely use firearms and archery equipment,” said Donna Fox, 4-H youth development specialist for camping and shooting sports.
Marion Creech said 50 campers attended the first camp in 1993. Today, the camp accepts 120 campers and quickly reaches capacity. Safety is the top priority with a 1-to-5, adult-to-camper ratio.
“We stress safety at 4-H Shooting Sports Camp,” said Tony Rose, camp coordinator and Adair County agent for 4-H youth development. “We tell the campers that this isn’t something you horse around with--- that will get you sent home in a hurry.”
Without faithful and enthusiastic volunteers like the Creeches, the camp wouldn’t happen, Rose said.
“They run the ranges and teach the classes,” he said.
Judy Creech said the young people and the kinship they’ve developed within the shooting sports community have kept her and her husband involved with the program.
“It’s been the experience of a lifetime,” she said. “There’s a bond between shooting sports enthusiasts that can’t be explained. It’s a very special group of people. The children who went to camp stay with it as adult volunteers, and now their kids are interested.”
Donna Fox, 859-257-5961, ext. 80994; Tony Rose, 270-384-2317; Marion and Judy Creech, 502-348-9204