Camp American Legion, Very Impressive!
I have written several tines about the fact that I am blessed to know hundreds of really good people, and this week I can say that again as I made a whole bunch of new friends that you are about to read about.
Chuck and Kathie Stelzners are from Howards Grove and last winter started corresponding with Selina and I. Back in May Chuck asked me if I would like to spend some time with him at Oneida Counties, Camp American Legion. I had no idea what Camp American Legion was and was told that it is a resort/ retreat that is owned and managed by The American Legion and is a place for Wisconsin veterans and active duty members that could use a place to rest and rehabilitate.
Camp American Legion is on Big Carr Lake and borders the south end of the Minocqua chain of lakes. In our first conversation I found out that I could bring my 18’6 War Eagle up to camp and take past and present service members fishing and that is what I did, most importantly I learned about an incredible resort that was originally created for WWI vets, and is a spiritual place to spend time.
Tuesday June 9th
High 82, low 54
I had no idea what I was getting into and was I amazed when I arrived this afternoon with my golden retriever “Fire” who would be a big hit the next three days. First I met Chuck Stelzners for the first time and the camp manager Don Grundy. About all I can say about Don Grundy is he is a blessing for this place. He can build, create, speak, clean up, and cook.
This entire experience is free to those who qualify and all meals are shared together in a very unique lodge that was built in 1929. About 1200 people stay here a year and I started making friends right off the bat and making reservations. When I say reservations I mean booking out fishing trips which would be a total of seven where people signed up and I took them trolling for walleye and smallmouth bass.
What really impressed me about this camp is all of the volunteers, they need more, of which most are past service members and many of them are veterans of the Vietnam War. These guys and gals take folks fishing on pontoon boats, help cook, do dishes, and simply spend time with with a lot of Wisconsin’s heroes.
Tonight after my first expedition I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Nance. Dave volunteers here for most of the season and is just a real pleasant man to be around. Tonight Dave had taken Dawn Putzke and her three children Alden, Presley, and Tillie fishing and everyone was in a great mood. Dawn is a Wisconsin Air National Guard member at Volk Field and is here with her father Joe Resop Jr. Joe Resop served in Vietnam in 67, 68 and was beat up pretty bad in the Battle of Hue but still enjoys each and every day.
Wednesday, July 10th
High 84, low 57
Today I took out four groups starting at 6, 9, 1 and 6. It was a great day in my life. I taught our heroes and some family members how to troll, most importantly we went for a boat ride and just talked. In every case I had someone else run the boat, which I just met, as I was running six lines for my new friends.
In a lot of cases I listened to men who I had just met in my boat, share stories about the military or life after the military and for myself it was an incredible experience.
We have all heard about the damage done to some people in military, conflict that does not have obvious wounds and over this three day period I learned how Camp American Legion is such an incredible place for folks to come and heal.
The meals together, and the cabins that are sponsored with great pride by American Legion posts from throughout Wisconsin, are all great.
I made a point of not asking any questions and today I fished with a father, son team of Brent and Wayland from Green Bay. Brent and Wayland are just starting to get into outdoor experiences and for myself it would have been worth a $500.00 bill to see how happy they were whenever they landed another fish and the joy they had together through their shared experiences.
Folks, Camp American Legion is there for those in need, but does have a problem, and that is that there simply is not as many people in the American Legion as there used to be which in short comes to dollars and cents.
Think about this for a second, all the wars since WW1, this place has been there to help our vets at least for a week of their lives each year. Please check out www.campamericanlegion.org
Don Grundy, if you want my help again next year I will be back! Sunset