2024 Youth

The First annual Swan Valley Youth Outdoor Education Rendezvous was held on June 15th. What a day, what an event! With big smiles and rapt attention, children and parents experienced hands on learning ten different outdoor skills. This was in spite of inclement weather, rain, wind and temperatures so cold the snow line dropped to about five thousand feet on the Swan Mountains.

They learned about horse and mule packing and how to manty up a load from Colton Dunlap and Buck Creek Outfitters.
And tried fly casting with Libby Stultz and Bent Fly Fishing Montana
They explored archery with Nicole Tindale, Flaming Arrow Archery Shop in Kalispell.
And gained First Aid Skills with Racheal Vargas, Montana Health and Safety Training instructor.
They learned how to use the ONX Hunt application with outdoor TV Personality and ONX pro staffer Lake Pickle.
They learned that you have think during wildlife encounters, not react from outdoorsman and naturalist Tom Parker
They learned how to use a dutch oven with Johnnie Dunlap of Buck Creek Outfitters
They learned about hunter and firearm safety from Ron Ream, avid hunter and certified Montana Hunter Safety Instructor.
They learned basic knot tying from long time resident Tom Berkley
They learned about Preparing for Backcountry Hikes from Kevin Slade, avid wilderness traveler and First Responder with Swan Valley Emergency Services.
And the wonderful smells of a real down home barbecue started folks on building a big appetite.
And when the classes were over everybody was hungry
The barbecue was delicious
Lots of big smiles
And to cap it all off the rain quit and the sun came out!
The day finished with the students whose names were picked out of a hat, winning various prizes, donated by the class instructors, including among other things, a dutch oven, fishing poles and hundred dollar gift certificates for outdoor gear.

We thank the Swan Valley Community for supporting this great free event. The Swan Valley Community Club provided tables and chairs, the Swan Valley Community Church provided tables and chairs. The Swan Valley Emergency Services provided the much needed huge tent. The Swan Valley American Legion offered the use of the ball field. CLB Custom Land Works provided equipment, time and expertise in getting the ball field ready for the event. Hall Hubbard provided his smoker, time and expertise. We thank all the class instructors who volunteered their time, expertise and travel expenses free of charge. And we thank more volunteers from the community than we can name here who gave freely of their time and gear to help make this event happen. So a great big thank you to everybody that pitched in.

Finally the Swan Valley Community Foundation recognizes the efforts of our Board Member Fred and his wife Maria Fanizzi and all their hard work planning, organizing, preparing and putting this event together for the Swan Valley. We are already looking forward to this annual event next year in 2025.

Thank you very much Fred and Maria.

Setting up for the big event.

Swan Valley Community Foundation Youth Outdoor Education Rendezvous volunteers set up the American Legion Ball Field on June 14th for the rendezvous on June 15th. Volunteer’s efforts during the previous months mowing, cleaning up down trees and vegetation and generally sprucing things up came to fruition on the 14th as they moved in the tents and equipment for the event on the 15th.

Fred and Maria Fanizzi are the leaders of the Swan Valley Community Foundation’s Youth Outdoor Education Rendezvous. Here they take a moment, and reflect on the months of planning and hard work they put into this project, as the registration and meeting tent goes up.

About 30-40 volunteers from across the Swan Valley Community came together on the 14th bringing coolers and other equipment for use in the event. People came and went as they collected tables and chairs from the Community Club and the Community Church and a large tent from the Swan Valley Emergency Services. All this was set up at the American Legion Community Ball Field. The volunteers were treated to pizza for lunch and Fred’s special jambalaya for dinner after the set up work was done. People enjoyed the meal, visited with neighbors and old friends and met new neighbors and made new friends and got a lot done all at the same time.

This is truly a community event and effort supporting the First Annual Youth Outdoor Education Rendezvous. On the 15th, ten different outdoor classes are offered to youth and parents free of charge ranging from back country first aid, stock packing, basic knots, dutch oven cooking, firearm safety and maintenance, introduction to archery, introduction to fly casting, using ONX Hunt App, back country hiking, and wildlife encounter safety. In addition to classes the free event includes breakfast, lunch and a barbeque rib dinner for all participants.

This coming Saturday June 15th! Sign up now!