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Campers get their hunting credentials - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Campers get their hunting credentials

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JERICHO, Vt. - The Machia Wilderness Camp began as a vision but it has become much more. Organizers say the camp is transforming the lives of kids - and giving them skills for the great outdoors.

It's an opportunity for kids like Sterling Karteron to learn something new.

"Before this camp, I never really got out," said Sterling Karteron. He is a Freshman at Burlington High School.

He's been coming for the past 3 years, and has learned about a whole new world out here at the Machia Wilderness Camp.

"I thought it was something that you ignore and it really didn't show much significance in life until you get out and show what you can do here,” said Karteron.

The week long camp equips a handful of kids with the training they need to receive their hunter education card, and it all began with the dream of one man.

"Larry had a whole vision, this is just the beginning,” explains Bonnie Machia.

She carries on the vision of her late husband Larry Machia, who died of cancer in 2003. His sole mission was to give kids a place to connect with nature through outdoor activities. Saturday, 29 students prepared for graduation.

"Some of them come in very afraid and saying I can't do it and the instructors and the counselors work with them and by the end of the week they're doing it,” said Machia.

"His favorite saying was 'we need to teach kids that hamburger didn't come from the meat market, there's more to it than that,” said Chief Instructor Dennis Briggs.

Kids ages 11-18 learn everything from archery to fishing skills and how to shoot a gun. They prepared to pass their final test at Ethan Allen Firing Range.

"Four people shoot at one time and they practice their marksmanship and we're looking for grouping, that's what we really want to see," said camp counselor Karteron.

The campers took instruction from Vermont Fish and Wildlife volunteers and other camp grads.

"They've been in the classroom for a long time so today is there day to get out and show their parents and their families what they've accomplished over the weeks,” said another camp counselor, Jamie Coli.

But it's not just about the great outdoors.

"Add some courtesy, add some responsibility and respect, that's what we're striving for it's more than just hunting,” said Briggs.

A mission Larry would be proud of.

"I think he'd say bravo,” said Bonnie Machia.
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