Outdoors expo offers object lesson on success


At some point between hanging up 13 hand-lettered signs last Friday and policing a small field edge for broken balloon scraps the next afternoon, something miraculous happened at the 2013 CAMO Outdoors Expo near New Columbia.

It could be seen in the transformation of 7-year-old Madison Leininger, of Milton, as she nervously sat with her father, Terry, in an orange-and-red plastic kayak for the first time. A few laps around the small lake at the Central Pennsylvania Wesleyan Campground, and Madison was ready to go again, this time bringing mom along for the ride.

It was evident in the beaming smile from 7-year-old Austin Walls, of Middleburg, as he inched his way to victory in his age bracket of the children’s pedal tractor pull. He proudly claimed his blue ribbon, later hanging it in his room and eventually taking it to school to share with new classmates.

And when 5-year-old Rylee Bailor, of rural Winfield, caught a nice-sized bluegill on a big, juicy nightcrawler. And each time 8-year-old Faith Knopp, of rural Turbotville, drew the string on one of the youth-sized compound bows and popped a brightly colored balloon. And when a group of youngsters took a guided nature hike with naturalist Jon Beam, asking endless questions about everything from hickory nuts to bats and everything in between.

The CAMO Outdoors Expo was created a little more than three years ago by a few members of the Port Ann Wesleyan Church, near Middleburg, as a way to share the mens group’s passion for the outdoors while offering a free ministry outreach to the community.

Unlike some of the bigger shows in our region, the main goal of the expo is not to make money. In fact, it isn’t a goal at all, but instead an opportunity to share some clean outdoors fun with families while making connections and helping children create positive new memories that will last a lifetime.

As organizers dreamed large while planning the expo’s recent installment, some feelers were sent out to big-named speakers with hopes of drawing in a larger crowd.

Noting the local following for the television show “Duck Dynasty,” correspondence was sent out in hopes of snagging one of the four main characters — Willie, Phil, Jase or Si. But a quote of $54,000 each (plus first-class airfare) popped that daydream in mid-stride.

Tim Tebow, a well-known Christian speaker currently on his third NFL team cost a cool $125,000, plus $10,000 for travel.

The prices were discouraging, but provided a very interesting object lesson.

Over the past three years, the expo has welcomed a slew of outdoor speakers who have offered their time and effort as simply a donation to the cause.

Like longtime gun safety educator Fred Gast, of Watsontown, who shared an hour-long discussion of firearm fundamentals. While he obviously drew less people than a speaker the caliber of Willie Robertson would have, his audience left the conference area with nuggets of knowledge that may help save a life someday.

Numerous area businesses stepped up to the plate, too.

Penns Creek Kayak helped fill a big part of the schedule by donating six kayaks and all the necessary gear that ultimately helped more than 60 people — many for the first time ever — experience the thrill of kayaking. Memories and photos from Saturday afternoon will last some of those people a lifetime.

Rovendale Ag, of Watsontown, donated a shiny blue New Holland Boomer 35 tractor that was running all day with a line of children enjoying a barrel train ride.

Numerous businesses (and a few individuals) donated money or door prizes to the expo, including Blaise Alexander GMC, Valley Ag and Turf, Martin’s Small Engine Repair, Warrior Run Petcate, BS&B repair, CPR Auto, Blue Heron Sports, Robbins Marine, Weaver’s Archery, The Little Sportsman Shop, Boops Sporting Goods, JD Welding, White Springs Repair, Horning’s Pallet Works, Kelly Mobile Homes and others.

And countless individuals donated their time to help kids bait hooks, take aim at balloons with BB guns, bows and slingshots, safely get in and out of kayaks, cook and serve food, run registration, hand out door prizes, drive barrel trains and so much more.

People have asked over the past week if the 2013 CAMO Outdoors Expo was a success.

No, it didn’t make a lot of money. And, no, it didn’t draw Tim Tebow-esque crowds.

But who needs Willie, Jase, Si and Phil when you can share a special moment with people like Madison, Austin, Rylee and Faith — along with so many other wide-eyed children, their families and selfless volunteers?

The expo was definitely success — built one priceless moment at a time.

~ by zaktansky on August 24, 2013.

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