Greetings from the MUCC’s OUTofDOORS camp!
Hailing from the state just to the south, my name is Tyler Butler and I am the new OUTofDOORS Youth Camp Director. I am excited at the opportunity to carry on the tradition of our conservation based programming while also taking our camp is some exciting new directions!
Growing up in Central Ohio, I spent most of my childhood looking for snakes and salamanders just like everyone else. Leading into the fifth grade I joined a start-up 4-H club, the Country Clovers. Our club was a fine mix of recreational and livestock projects. My livestock projects, mostly poultry, are what propelled me into my local FFA chapter. Serving under many of office and committees in the Mount Gilead FFA it was clear what my future had held for me. I began my first year of undergrad at the Wilmington College of Ohio. My focus was agricultural education. After a year of study, I had transferred to The Ohio State University and broadened my employment spectrum by changing my major to agricultural communications, but still retaining my minors in both animal science and agricultural business and applied economics. It was at OSU that I found the next organization to shape me into the person I am today. The Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. I spent three years as an active member, two of those on the executive board for our house. I also spent three years working with the Plant Pathology Department of OSU forming studies and data collection for the effectiveness and impact of experimental fungicides.
Though my major had diverted from education, my mindset had not. Both of my internships at OSU focused primarily on program building and delivery. My first was a chance to give back to the 4-H community serving as a short-term intern for the Morrow County Extension Office. The second being an exciting opportunity teaching at the Highland Youth Garden in Columbus, Ohio. The garden worked with local schools in the area to help bring science to life! Children would visit the garden to learn any variety of science based lessons and have the opportunity to get their hands dirty as we planted or harvested fruits and vegetables. After I graduated in 2015, I joined the education department at The Wilds Conservation Center in Southeast, Ohio. There I was able to sharpen my skills as an educator and feel like a professional when it came to childcare, program building and instruction. At The Wilds Conservation Center, I worked diligently as an educator and mentor for the children attending our WildeCamp covering wide ranges of topics from E-DNA to native owl calls. During this time, I also became the Educational Intern and Lead Educator for the E.C.O. Center LLC. E.C.O. allowed me to see behind the curtain and into the business side of education and wildlife protection. After all of this and countless hours of personal interest, study and volunteer time I have landed in Lansing, Michigan!
I believe that summer camp is one of the most important milestones for a child. Allowing them the opportunity to spend some time away from home and experience the world in another way is exciting and necessary. Although camp seldom extends more than a week, in that time children learn to:
-Adapt to new persons, places, things and ideas. Our OUTofDOORS Youth Camp is a great place for children to unplug from their devices and electronics and enjoy the company of one another through leadership activities and face to face contact with their peers as well as our staff! Being able to function in new, perhaps unfamiliar situations will become important as children begin to age. It is said that the most successful are not always the strongest or the smartest, but the ones that are the most resilient in the face of chance. It is at camp that many children start to practice the use of valuable social skills. Whether settling a disagreement or learning how to work as a team our staff will be there to provide the support and guidance our campers need.
-Assert themselves socially. Removing children from their day to day routine can ignite a spark in their attitude and well-being. Coming into a new place with supportive individuals gives that child a chance to spread their wings and fly. When children are subjected to the same routine day to day, week to week, it can become stale. They will conform to roles and personalities that they have molded for themselves over time. Camp is a great outlet for children to be who they want to be, even for just a few days. Often times I’ll be warned by a parent that their child is shy and may have trouble making friends, but that “shy” camper is usually the individual captivating everyone with a campfire tale just a few hours later! There will be plenty of chance for our campers to come out of their shell and create long lasting friendships and memories this summer.
-Develop as an individual. Our staff is chosen by experience and personality. We pride ourselves in making sure our OUTofDOORS Youth Camp is represented by intelligent, responsible and caring individuals. It is because of this that I am confident that our campers will be able to find a positive role model at camp whether they are at the waterfront keeping swimmers safe or in the kitchen cooking our next meal! No child is to come to camp without receiving positive feedback and reinforcement. In the week our campers spend with us I guarantee we will be an accomplishment, large or small, made every day. Camp is also a place where children have the ability to make their own choices. They can spend the week experiencing independence and growing into a responsible young person.
-Discover new interests. It’s right in the name! Our OUTofDOORS camp primarily focuses on reconnecting children with nature and wildlife. Whether that connection is built by scene, science or sport it is important that we get our campers outside and keep them active during camp and beyond. I want to see to it that every camper that enters the Cedar Lake Outdoor Center leaves with a further understanding of the world around them. My favorite moments interacting with children is seeing their eyes widen as they are making a connection with what they already know to what they are being taught.
As we prepare for our 2017 camp season I would like to share that I am an avid outdoorsman and whole heartedly support our hunting, fishing and trapping communities. These activities sprout strong relationships, grounded personalities, humility and a love for the outdoors. You are on the forefront in the efforts for Michigan conservation. The time you spend outdoors is treasured and you strive to preserve the land and wildlife in your area for generations to come. Therefore, it is important that our youth camp continue to provide the education and instruction necessary to certify young hunters and trappers.
Along with wildlife management I have a strong passion for conservation sciences. As the OUTofDOORS Youth Camp Director I plan to expand our programming to offer more diverse lessons and hands on activities in biology, ecology and natural sciences. Cedar Lake Outdoors Center allows us the location and opportunity to sprout not only the next generation of outdoorsman, outdoorswomen and nature enthusiasts but also our future engineers, biologists and geologists.
I look forward to meeting each child, mother, father, brother, sister and grandparent this year. Stay tuned to this blog for more information, thoughts, top 10 lists, wildlife spotlights and updates as camp is just on the horizon.
I am always available for questions, comments and concerns.
"In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught." - Baba Dioum, 1968.
Michigan United Conservation Clubs
OUTofDOORS Youth Camp Director