When I won the spot at the Kicking Beards II Pro/Am event in Kansas, I really didn’t have a clue what it was about. I thought it looked like a good organization to donate to and if I should win, it would be fun to go turkey hunting. Boy I had no clue what I was getting into.
First of all getting to “hang out” with the awesome Pros that were there was an absolute hoot. Guys like Heath Painter, and his camera man Chris Dyer a.k.a. “Catfish” a.k.a. “Flathead” who hosted in my first turkey kill, Mike Miller a.k.a. the “Assassin” who called in and filmed my second pinch, Tom King, Trevon Stoltzfus, Jimmy Big Time, J.T. Harden, Ryan Litwin, Casey and Chris Keefer, Matt Burtin and David Langston just to name a few. Meeting new friends like Thad Pool, Jodi Smith, Doug Gilmore, Maria Dupertuis, Durk Stark and the other winners and volunteers, well that in itself was more than worth the donation. I know I am going to ruin a bunch of macho egos, but you couldn’t find a bigger hearted, giving group of people that like to have fun. Add in Kevin Blake Weldon, who put on a concert, and the Locked Horn Outfitter owners Jared and Lizzie Crider and things were rocking.
We put down 25 turkeys total and I shot my first and 2nd turkeys on film. I hunted hard and made great contacts, but that was not what I really want to tell you about today.
I want to help get the word out about Kicking Bear One on One. This program was started by Ray Howell whose dad abandoned him, as a young child. Ray proceeded in life getting into trouble and eventually someone took the time and introduced him to hunting. It changed his life.
Ray has a much higher calling in life. There is a love for people that simply oozes from his gentle giant. You feel it the first time you are near him. Ray started Kicking Bear to give kids the chance to be mentored in hunting and hopefully change their lives for the better also. My favorite movie is Pay it Forward and that is exactly how Ray Howell lives his life. In the movie each person had to pay a kindness forward to 3 people, Ray has long surpassed that number. His program is one that will continue to breed a “pay it forward” attitude, while changing, and in some cases healing, the lives of not only our youth, but the people that surround them.
The following is the philosophy behind the Kicking Bear program.
Impacting the children of tomorrow… Showing youth a better way of life while providing them with a weekend of fun to experience new things and meet new friends.
Nothing we do is as important as the impact that we have on the youth community.
- Engaging activities develop values, skills and relationships. Activities are not seen as ends in themselves, but as vehicles for creating values, building skills and solidifying peer and adult relationships. An engaging activity is one that holds the youth’s attention, awakens their imagination, and inspires them to want to learn more.
- All youth have equal rights to be accepted, respected and valued by others. Youth are viewed as individuals to be developed, not problems to be solved.
- Youth should be involved in decision-making and program design. If children get to choose how, when, in what and with whom to be engaged, they are far more likely to enjoy themselves and behave cooperatively.
- When we listen for understanding everyone learns – youth and adults alike. We are constantly able to learn from the youth as well as each other. Everyone is a learner.
Kicking Bear also follows up by providing free hunting and fishing experiences for kids that cannot afford it. That pretty much says it all.
I went to Kicking Beards thinking about what I could do for myself. I left Kicking Beards thinking about what I could do for others. I had someone that taught me in the beginning (thanks dad) and there are so many kids, (and adults) out there whose lives could be changed by having a mentor.
Kicking Bear holds camps all across the country at no cost to the kids. Please take the time to find out more about the Kicking Bear program and how you can help. Volunteer your time, donate your resources, or simply put out the word. No gift to this program will go unused. If someone taught you, please “pay it forward” it could change a life.
For more information about the Kicking Bear Program click here.