About the 2018 Maison T Ortiz Youth Outdoors Skills Camp
Founded in 2011, the Maison T Ortiz Youth Outdoor Skills Camp is a weekend-long event designed to immerse youths in outdoor skills training and a fun overnight camping experience. The 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 2011. Shortly after Maison’s death, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Northern Nevada Chapter of Safari Club International, and The Rotary Club of Sparks, Nevada, the Founding Sponsors, collaborated with the Ortiz family to organize a youth camp in order to remember Maison and to address the glaring need for youth involvement in wildlife-related outdoor activities. The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) also joined the collaboration as a strategic partner.
Since its beginning in 2011, the camp and its other related activities have operated and raised funds as a part of our Founding Sponsors and collaborators. A Steering Committee and Advisory Council made up of directors and members of those organizations governed. In December of 2016, Maison T Ortiz Youth Outdoor Skills, Inc. (MTOYOS) was incorporated and elected a board of directors. This board along with the Advisory Council now provides governance. In July of 2017 MTOYOS received standalone approval from the IRS as an exempt 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization.
“Provide an interactive educational summer camp that engages youths in wildlife-related outdoor recreational and conservational activities that are safe, responsible, and fun.”
- Our primary focus: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!
- Provide opportunities for inexperienced youth
- 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
The camp will take place at Winnemucca Ranch, located on Winnemucca Ranch Road off of the Pyramid Lake Highway, about 35 miles north of the Reno/Sparks metropolitan area. This unique location allows us access to some of the best wilderness areas Nevada has to offer within a reasonable driving distance to Reno and Sparks. We are truly fortunate to have access to this beautiful wild place to share with our campers and volunteers.
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.
Campers will be instructed, mentored and supervised during organized instructional activities by fully vetted, trained and certified adult Instructors and Counselors as well as Youth Mentors who have attended previous camps. Organized instructional activities include: Safety Trail, Laser Shot, Rifle Range (.22 rifle safety and target shooting), Shotgun Range (shotgun safety and target shooting), Archery Range (safety and shooting stationary and moving targets), Fishing, Dutch Oven Cooking, Outdoor Skills in Survival and Orienteering and Wildlife Calls.
There will be additional hands-on instructional seminars as well as discretionary activities available before and after organized instruction. Guest speakers will be featured each evening during and after dinner and there will be plenty of fun around the campfire. In addition, there are also plans for alumni events following the camp: the goal is to get our campers interested and keep them interested.
The camp is designed for and limited to girls and boys 11-14 years of age. Our primary recruiting priority 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 who are in the same age range and do have previous experience to bring a friend with little or no experience. Please refer to our camper applications for more details.
Successful applicants are required to pay a $49 fee to cover administrative costs when they register. Each camper will be given a new sleeping bag, backpack, headlight, fishing rod, two T-shirts, hat and survival kit for them to keep after camp. All meals, snacks and drinks will also be provided. Financial assistance will be available for families in need.
SAFETY AND SUPERVISION
Camper safety is our number one priority. We have a dedicated Camp Health and Safety Director who is responsible for the safety and well-being 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 EMT’s 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 72 campers. Safety first, last and always!
After six very successful camps, the 2017 event was scheduled for July 14-16, 2017. When the Long Valley Wildfire started on July 11, 2017 near Doyle, CA it spread quickly to the southeast, but up until the day before camp was to start it was not an imminent threat to the Winnemucca Ranch area. The MTOYOS board of directors decided that everything possible should be done to conduct the camp as scheduled. The camp leadership team was in contact with the fire incident commander and working closely with Truckee Meadow Fire Protection District. At noon the day before the camp was to begin we got a green light to conduct the camp with an aggressive communications and evacuation plan that included Washoe County School District buses. That afternoon the fire really flared up, and that evening we were advised to cancel the camp. The cancellation decision was made very difficult by the fact that the facilities were in place and ready for the camp and all of the 72 campers and 114 volunteers had to be contacted immediately. Obviously the safety and well-being of our campers and volunteers were the foremost concern. The decision to cancel was validated when the fire roared around Winnemucca Ranch on Saturday evening after the camp volunteers finished tearing down and storing the most of the camp facilities and equipment. Thanks to a tremendous effort by the fire crews involved, the aftermath of the fire left the structures and the ranch area used for the camp unscathed, but burned the surrounding areas to the north, south, east and west. The camp could not be rescheduled for later in the year because many of our volunteers, donated equipment and the Winnemucca Ranch, which is still a working cattle ranch, had scheduling conflicts.
The 2018 camp is scheduled for July 20–22, 2018. The board and its committees are in the planning process and are considering several new ideas. All of the 2017 registered campers have been offered the opportunity to attend in 2018 and we are anticipating that most of them will accept the invitation. This will leave very few new positions available for this year, but we still plan to recruit and accept new applications. 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 take-down, and we would greatly appreciate your help. If interested, please complete the Volunteer Interest Form available on our website.
HOW TO APPLY
Links to the 2018 Youth Camper and Youth Ambassador/Youth Camper Team Applications are now available on our Camper Applications page. You can submit your completed application electronically through Active Network, our camp management software solution provider. The deadlines for Camper Applications and Volunteer Interest Forms will be posted on the website. Successful Camper applicants are required to pay a $49 fee to cover administrative costs only after acceptance when they register. Financial assistance will be available for families in need.
If you are interested in volunteering and have not done so for a prior camp in the past three years, you can complete and submit a Volunteer Interest Form also found on our website.