About the Maison T Ortiz Youth Outdoors Skills Camp
WHY the camp was Founded
WHO we are
WHAT we are
WHEN is the camp?
WHERE is the camp?
WHY the camp was founded
For the past 30 years, there has been a steady decline in the number of youths who hunt, fish, or enjoy other forms of outdoor recreational activities both nationally and in Nevada. This is supported by statistics compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Nevada Department of Wildlife. The conclusion is that a vast majority of Nevada’s youth has never even seen a sage-grouse, mule deer, wild sheep, or pronghorn in the wild; enjoyed the thrill of a trout tugging on the end of their line; or seen the rugged beauty that Nevada’s wild areas have to offer. In an effort to reverse this trend, the Maison T Ortiz Youth Outdoor Skills Camp was founded.
WHO we are
The inspiration: This camp is named in honor and memory of Maison T Ortiz, a 15-year-old Galena High School student who tragically died in a snowboarding accident in January of 2011. Maison was a fifth-generation Nevadan who had an innate, uncanny ability to connect with nature. He was representative of the best of sportsmen and hunters and epitomizes the very type of youth embraced by the Founding Sponsors of this event. It is his family’s wish that deserving children have the opportunity to develop similar passions to those enjoyed and exemplified by Maison.
The founders: Shortly after Maison’s death, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Northern Nevada Chapter of Safari Club International, and The Rotary Club of Sparks, Nevada through the Fred Searles Trust (The Founding Sponsors), collaborated with the Ortiz family to organize a youth camp to remember Maison and address the glaring need to get more of our young people involved in outdoor activities. The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) also joined the collaborative as a strategic partner. The camp is governed by a Steering Committee and Advisory Council made up of directors and members of the Founding Sponsors, the Ortiz family, and NDOW.
Board of Directors
WHAT we are
The camp experience: The camp is a weekend-long event designed to immerse youths in outdoor skills training and a fun overnight camping experience.
Our Mission: Provide an interactive outdoor summer camp that engages youths in wildlife-related outdoor recreational and conservational activities that are safe, responsible, and fun.
The objectives that drive our mission:
- Our primary focus: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!
- Provide opportunities for inexperienced youths
- Promote individual and collective safety
- Promote sportsmanship and ethics
- Promote stewardship of private and public lands
- Promote knowledge and respect of wildlife and its habitat
- Promote the role that sportswomen and sportsmen play in wildlife and habitat conservation
- Promote the continuation of our outdoor heritage
Our core values
Rifle Range (.22 rifle safety and target shooting): The campers will be given instruction on firearms safety and live fire shooting paper and interactive targets with .22 caliber rifles, both optical and open sights. NRA and NDOW certified shooting instructors will be doing the training.
Archery Range (Archery safety and shooting): The campers will learn archery safety and all aspects of shooting the bow and arrow from the range to the field. The goal is for each Camper to come away with the knowledge, confidence and skills for safe and precise shot placement. We will also have an archery trap machine to teach the Campers to shoot targets in the air. The instructors are certified archery experts.
Shotgun Range (Shotgun safety and target shooting): The campers will be taught firearms safety as it pertains to shotguns, eye dominance, basic stance, and target tactics. After instruction they will be able to apply their new found knowledge shooting clay targets. The instructors are expert shooters and NRA certified.
Dutch Oven Cooking: The campers will learn how to prepare delicious meals using Dutch ovens and will actually help make lunch for their parents and other visitors at the camp closing ceremonies on Sunday. The instructors are experts in outdoor cooking.
Laser Shot and Air Rifles: The campers will be learning basic safety, firearms handling, proper sight alignment, ethical shooting situations, marksmanship, and wildlife identification using the same simulator used in Nevada’s Hunter Education classes. They can also hone their skills on various targets using air rifles in an arcade style shooting range. This event is also taught by certified NRA and NDOW Hunter Education instructors.
Outdoor Skills: The campers will receive a personal survival kit and instruction from experts on making an emergency shelter, multiple ways to start a fire, signaling for help and other basic outdoor readiness subjects to ensure safe adventures into Nevada’s outback. There will also be instruction on a variety of knots that may be useful for various outdoor activities. This event is taught by experts in outdoor survival and mountaineering.
Fishing: The Campers will be given instruction on how to cast conventional rods and reels as well as fly rods. We will teach knots they need to know how to tie while fishing. They will also learn about aquatic entomology (insects) and fishing safety. There is a large pond on the ranch, freshly stocked with trout, where Campers can try out their new skills from the shore and float tubes! The instructors are trained angling experts who know how to work with kids.
Safety Trail: The campers will participate in activities to demonstrate “Field Safety” with the use of non-functional training firearms. Hands-on activities will include maneuvering through thick brush, crossing an obstacle and safe firearm handling in the field, again taught by certified NRA and NDOW Hunter Education instructors.
Wildlife Calls: The campers will learn to use a diaphragm call to imitate the sounds made by coyotes, elk and turkeys. They will also receive instruction in using a duck call. A diaphragm call and a duck call will be provided for each camper for them to keep. The instructors are experts at using and teaching these skills.
Evening and Campfire Activities: Guest speakers will be featured each evening after dinner to make presentations about careers in the outdoors. After it gets dark there will be plenty of fun around the campfire including entertainment and singing.
Optional Events: Discretionary activities available before and after organized instruction vary from year to year but will include Wildlife Tracks and Identification, the SCI Sensory trailer, Casting Skills and making a survival bracelet.
Alumni Events (After the Camp): There are also plans for alumni events following the camp: the goal is to get our campers interested and keep them interested.
The camp will have large tents for cooking, eating, and sleeping. Sleeping tents, which contain cots, are segregated by gender and will have four adult camp counselors as well as several youth mentors of the same gender present for supervision. Each event station will have shade canopies and be stocked with snacks, water, and other healthy beverages. Portable toilets and wash stations will be situated throughout the camp and event areas. A medical tent with at least one medical professional will be available at all times.
Safety and Supervision
Camp safety is our number one priority. We have a dedicated Camp Health and Safety Director who is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of our campers and volunteers. There will be eighteen adult counselors, sixteen assigned and two unassigned, and eight youth mentors to assist and supervise the campers throughout their instructional sessions. Our instructors are all subject matter experts trained and certified in their area of expertise. Additionally, all adult volunteers are fully vetted and undergo a criminal background check.
A medical tent will be staffed by medical professionals at all times during the camp. We have radio contact throughout the camp and have satellite phones for emergency calls. REMSA EMTs are present during the daytime events and have radio contact with emergency services. Between counselors, mentors, instructors and volunteers, we will have over 100 people supporting our 64 campers. Safety first, safety last, safety always!
WHEN is camp?
2017 camp dates
After six very successful camps, the 2017 event will be held on July 14-16th. We will be inviting up to 64 campers who are 11-14 years of age. We feel that keeping our group sizes at a maximum of sixteen kids per event and eight for events involving firearms ensures a safe, quality experience with lots of one-on-one time for each individual camper.
Because we do limit the number of campers attending and have more interest than openings, potential participants must apply to attend the camp. If you apply and are selected, you will be notified and will receive a registration packet.
Who should apply
The camp is designed for and limited to girls and boys 11-14 years of age. Our primary recruiting focus is youths who may not have opportunities to experience Nevada’s outdoors. We also have a camper classification called “Youth Ambassador,” which allows a limited number of campers that do have previous experience in the events being presented at the camp to apply with a friend with little or no experience. So if you have a little to a lot of experience your chances of being accepted are greatly increased if you apply as an Ambassador with a friend with lesser experience. Please, refer to our camper applications for more details.
Volunteers are also needed, but we are only anticipating a limited number of openings during the time the campers are present since volunteers from the previous camps are given a preference. However, there is still plenty to do with setup and takedown, and we would greatly appreciate your help. If interested, please complete the Volunteer Interest Form.
How to apply
Applications for Youth Camper and Youth Ambassador/Youth Camper Teams are now available here. If you are interested in volunteering for the camp, please complete and submit the Volunteer Interest Form here. You can submit your completed application electronically from this website or print a hard copy and submit to any of the addresses indicated on the application. The deadline for Camper Applications and Volunteer Interest forms is Sunday, April 30th. All fully completed forms must be in our regular mailbox or email inbox by midnight.
WHERE is the camp?
About our location
Winnemucca Ranch is located just 30 miles north of the Reno/Sparks metro area and is nestled in a beautiful valley between Dogskin Mountain and Tule Peak. This area is one of the most beautiful in Northern Washoe County. From the ranch, herds of deer, antelope, and wild horses can often be seen. Chukar, quail, and sage grouse are also common as are other varieties of birds and animals. A working family cattle ranch until 2005 it is still used for cattle grazing today. This is a spectacular location for the Camp and we would like to thank the owners of Buckhorn Land and Livestock, LLC, Todd Jaksick and Randy Venturacci for allowing us to share this special place with our Campers.