Camp­ing at Bunky’s

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake

One of the best things about liv­ing in South­ern Mary­land is that you’re never too far from the wa­ter. That couldn’t be any truer for where my fam­ily lives. The Po­tomac and Patux­ent rivers and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay are all within a short car ride, and the jour­ney is usu­ally fairly pic­turesque.

Last week we had the plea­sure of a beau­ti­ful drive across the Gov. Thomas John­son Bridge twice a day. As long as traf­fic co­op­er­ates, that drive can be re­lax­ing. You might spot an osprey over­head, or if you are re­ally lucky as we have been on a few oc­ca­sions, a bald ea­gle. Not a lot of boats were out last week, which prob­a­bly had some­thing to do with the fact that it was as hot as blazes, but we al­ways en­joy the view from the top and scop­ing out the boat­ing ac­tiv­ity.

The hot weather didn’t stop my kids and about a dozen other campers from hav­ing a fun and mem­o­rable week at the kids camp at Bunky’s Char­ter Boats in Solomons. They slathered on the sun­screen and packed their wa­ter bot­tles with crushed ice and spent a few hours each morn­ing en­joy­ing more than just your reg­u­lar run-of-the-mill camp ac­tiv­i­ties. Fish­ing, boat­ing and safe fun on the wa­ter are what this camp is all about.

The campers learned how to tie their lines for bot­tom rigs and cast their rods. They got com­fort­able cut­ting worms, bait­ing hooks, and land­ing fish. Their boat­ing ex­cur­sions were wide-rang­ing, from the “Marchelle,” which re­ally im­pressed the kids (it’s about 50 feet long, and has its own bath­room, which they thought was grand), to the “El­iza Re­nee,” a smaller boat that af­forded them the op­por­tu­nity to net crabs. Spot, croaker, short stripers and even sea robins were all part of the daily catch.

This was the kind of camp where the kids learned a lot and then went right out and ap­plied it in the real world. One day the kids used their new skills to net them­selves a small haul of crabs, which we brought home and steamed for lunch. I doubt there are many camps that send such a tasty lunch home with the campers.

My kids es­pe­cially en­joyed kayak­ing in the creek be­hind the is­land. My younger daugh­ter had never been out on a kayak be­fore so her sister took her in a tan­dem un­til she had enough ex­pe­ri­ence to go solo. Some campers even had the chance to fish from their kayaks. Af­ter that suc­cess they both want to try pad­dle­board­ing.

One of the things that re­ally stood out and made me con­fi­dent that my kids were in good hands was the qual­ity of the staff. They had plenty of mates as­sist­ing with the camp, many of them older teenagers who had worked at Bunky’s dur­ing pre­vi­ous sum­mers. Some were still in col­lege, and one of the mates had just grad­u­ated from Amer­i­can Univer­sity with a de­gree in in­ter­na­tional busi­ness and was look­ing for her

first job. All were ma­ture and knowl­edge­able.

And the fact that about half the mates were fe­male didn’t es­cape my at­ten­tion. Strong, smart, ca­pa­ble women are good role mod­els for lit­tle girls. My par­ents raised my sister and I to be­lieve that women can do any­thing they put their minds to, and I want to do the same for my girls.

The staff at Bunky’s didn’t seem like just co­work­ers, they were more like a fam­ily. We got ice cream each day from the stand at the front of Bunky’s shop, which does a brisk busi­ness and, as it turns out, the girl who helped us is fam­ily. I thought she seemed a lit­tle young for her first job, but it all made sense when she said she’s the 10-year-old daugh­ter of the owner. It was her first day on the job and she was po­lite and help­ful, a tes­ta­ment that Bunky’s is a place where hard work is val­ued.

Bunky’s has a good thing go­ing with this fish­ing camp. Not only are kids en­gaged in out­door ac­tiv­i­ties and learn­ing prac­ti­cal skills, but with fish­ing comes an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for our nat­u­ral re­sources and a de­sire to pro­tect them. This new gen­er­a­tion of an­glers is the fu­ture of conser va­tion.

You’d think that af­ter spend­ing a few hours fish­ing and crab­bing, my kids would be tuck­ered out and ready to go home and relax in the air con­di­tion­ing. When I’d pick them up each day at noon, it was slow-go­ing get­ting them out to the car, a sure sign they were hav­ing a good time and weren’t ready to leave just yet. I wasn’t the only mom or dad wait­ing pa­tiently for the kids to stow their rods and get their tackle box “just-so” be­fore they were ready to go.

In fact, they’ve asked to go fish­ing even more than nor­mal. Luck­ily we have a lit­tle neigh­bor­hood pond just a mile up the road from our house where we can catch bluegill any­time. Af­ter spend­ing a few days fish­ing at Bunky’s, my old­est daugh­ter de­cided she was ready to grad­u­ate from the bob­ber and meal­worm we usu­ally out­fit her rod with to a top­wa­ter lure for the very first time (which she tied on by her­self).

A lively bass struck that pop­per on the first cast and did some aerial ac­ro­bat­ics that even got the at­ten­tion of her sisters from across the pond. She didn’t catch any­more bass that day, but the ex­cite­ment of that one bass was the ic­ing on the cake for an out­stand­ing week of fish­ing. I heard a cho­rus of “just one more cast” from all my daugh­ters as we left the pond to head home for sup­per­time.

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