Imagine sending your teenagers on a week-long adventure where they can learn to hunt, fish, and enjoy the great outdoors! This once-in-a-lifetime experience is called Youth Conservation Camp and it’s sponsored by the South Dakota Wildlife Federation.
Since the first camp was held in 1964, thousands of South Dakota youth have experienced the excitement of outdoor sports while learning the importance of conserving our natural resources.
The Youth Conservation Camp is held in early June at Camp Bob Marshall in the beautiful Black Hills. Camp participants are housed in rustic cabins with modern bathrooms and eating facilities. The camp has a director, two assistant directors, and two counselors for each cabin of 12 teens, along with other staff members. Transportation is available to and from the camp. See the Bus Schedule for more information.
Who May Attend?
Any student who has completed 8th grade, or is currently in the 9th, 10th, or 11th grade in high school and is interested in conservation, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
How Do I Apply?
Reservations for camp will be accepted from March 1st to May 1st. After May 1st, reservations will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis until the camp quota is filled. For a priority reservation, apply directly to a local affiliate club or to a local Soil Conservation District Office. These organizations screen applicants as to eligibility and provide financial assistance to participants.
If neither of these are available in your area, send the Camp Application Form to Bob Schaeffer, Camp Director. A check in the amount of $350 must be included. Scholarships and sponsorships for camp may be available. Contact camp director for additional information.
After March 1, reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until the camp quota is filled. Reservations can be cancelled and checks refunded until May 15.
For more information on the SDWF Youth Conservation Camp, please contact:
Bob Schaeffer, Camp Director
1409 North 1st Street
Aberdeen, SD 57401
Phone: (605) 380-0125
Chris Hesla, Executive Director
South Dakota Wildlife Federation
P.O. Box 7075
Pierre, SD 57501-7075
E-Mail: Chris Hesla
Education Services Coordinator
South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks
Phone: (605) 223-7667
Email: Maggie Lindsey
A variety of conservation and outdoor recreation activities are offered, such as:
- Conservation Officer Investigations
- Fish Netting/Lake Survey
- Lake/Stream Fishing
- Insect Identification
- Solve the Case
- Stream Ecology
- Bird Basics
- Boating Safety
- Wildlife Photography
- Fly Tying
- Deer/Elk Tracking
- Shooting Skills
- Lighting Ceremony at Mt. Rushmore
There are a total of four awards presented at the camp.
- "Doc McClellan Award" recognizing the outstanding staff member or presenter during the camp.
- "Swede Larsen Award" reognizing the outstanding efforts of an individual who promoted the camp.
- "Bob Erdman Award " recognizing the outstanding male participant.
- "Ervin Roher Award"recognizing the outstanding female participant.
"Thank you for all you do for the conservation camp. I had an absolutely marvelous time. I really enjoyed the activities that we were able to participate in at Custer State Park. I know that you put a lot of time into getting everything ready, and I really appreciate it. I learned a lot and met a lot of new people, it was a great time. Thanks for all you do, and I hope to see you next year.”
“Good Morning. Thank you very much for opportunity for my daughter to attend the Conservation Camp. It was one the best educational experiences she has ever had, and she really enjoyed everything about it. We sure appreciate everything you are doing for kids - keep up the great work”
“Hayden absolutely LOVED it last year! He is a typical boy teenager and doesn’t say much to his parents, but oh my goodness he got off that bus last year and wouldn’t stop talking for two hours! He loved the classes, the atmosphere, the food, everything…if you are the one who put the classes together - You are doing a wonderful job - A big THANKS to you. He loved how the instructors talked about their real life experiences and how they seem to inspire kids to “get involved” in the world around them.
I could go on forever, but mainly wanted to say you are doing a Great job and Thank You!”