Summer camp provides long-lasting friendships, forever memories, and unforgettable fun times. Camp offer opportunities to kids that they may not have a chance to participate in any other time such as horseback riding, canoeing, or ropes courses. A truly unique summer camp experience is at the NRA Whittington Center in northeast New Mexico. Every year, the NRA Whittington Center hosts Adventure Camp for 13- to 17-year-olds in two-week sessions. Adventure camp focuses on training and firearm safety. Campers will spend a half day on each of the Whittington Center’s 17 sophisticated ranges, with extensive classroom training and safety courses.
Since the camp’s inception in 1988, over 2,200 campers from all over the United States as well as from all over the world, have successfully learned how to shoot, hunt, and become self-reliant, self-respecting teenagers. Fifty-six campers attend each two-week session and get to fire about 1,300 rounds from pistols, rifles, shotguns, and muzzleloaders. One of the more popular features at Adventure Camp is the opportunity to fire a donated .50 BMG Barrett at the Whittington Center’s 1,000-yard high-powered rifle range.
Though the main focus is to teach safe firearms use, kids also learn archery, all aspects of hunting, survival skills, camp cooking and set-up, knife care, use, and sharpening, map reading, orienteering, wildlife management, and other skills such as knot tying. Campers who chose to do so, may participate in the New Mexico Hunter Education Program, earning their hunter’s certificate.
At the heart of the NRA Whittington Center Adventure Camp’s philosophy is teaching youth “safety, self-respect, and leadership skills.” The highly-trained certified staff marvel at the kids transformations over the two week period of camp saying they see campers gain confidence, self-reliance, and independence by learning the skills taught at camp.
One of the highlights of camp is a true 3-day, 2-night campout under the stars. During the campout, campers participate in what they call the “walk-through” which is a live-fire simulation of a big game hunt. Campers shoot at paper animal targets demonstrating ethical shots and all the other skills they learned during their stay at the Whittington Center. At the end of camp, staff and campers choose the best shooters and all-round best campers to receive awards and prizes. Family and friends are welcome to attend the end of camp award ceremony.
Past campers have included competitive shooters all the way to those who have never fired a firearm before. There is no requirement in a child’s level of shooting to attend camp. Wayne Armacost, NRA Whittington Center’s Executive Director, says that Adventure Camp is “the most comprehensive youth shooting program in the country.” Campers stay in a series of cabins on the Whittington Center’s grounds with counselors on-site. The price is $950 a session that includes all firearms, ammunition, room, and a meal plan. Some campers get scholarships to attend. A scholarship camper from Fort Worth, Texas writes, “Without your generous donation, I would never have been able to come here. So thank you for affording me this once in a lifetime opportunity. I very much appreciate it, it is a place anyone would want to return to and should be preserved for many generations.” Other campers have described Adventure Camp as “epic,” “awesome,” “incomparable,” and “incredible.”
The NRA Whittington Center sits on 33,000 acres in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The historical ruins of a mining town sit on the grounds, as well as the Santa Fe Trail passes through the area. The NRA Whittington Center has a museum, a library, cabins, tent and RV camping, and many more outdoor activities for the whole family. The grounds are host to mule deer, elk, black bear, antelope, mountain lion, and wild turkey. Campers are sure to see wildlife like they have never seen before.
Without the generous donations of industry sponsors, the Adventure Camp would not be what it is today. Savage, Ruger, S&W, Colt, Trijicon, Leupold, Thompson/Center, Lyman, Knight Rifles, Beretta, Mossberg, Bowtech Diamond compound bows, and Laporte Archery Phoenix have all donated products for the kids to have a comprehensive experience while at the NRA Whittington Center.
The 2012 sessions go from June 10 through 22 and session two runs from June 25 through July 6. The 2012 and 2013 summer seasons are fully booked. Registration for 2014 opens on July 1, 2012. Applications are accepted on a first come-first serve basis. To learn more and apply for camp, visit the NRA Whittington Center Adventure Camp website and prepare for the summer camp experience of your lifetime!The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!’s blog, “The Shooter’s Log,” is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!