Campers attending the Catoctin Creek Nature Center’s one-week camps have been leaving with similar nicknames this year: bull’s-eye, range leader, Katniss and Merida among others, counselor Megan Turcios said.
“I just think it’s cool trying to shoot something,” said camper Jasper Lin of Frederick, referring to archery. “It’s quite hard. It’s hard to pull back the bow and to hit it.”
Jasper, 11, was one of several campers attending an overnight visit with parents July 12, many of whom also were eager to try their hand at the sport. Cindy Zhao of Frederick said she always has wanted to try archery, but never had the chance.
“The kids didn’t want to camp, but I really wanted to try archery,” she said, laughing. “It was awesome. I really enjoyed it.”
Although the week-long, multiple activity camps have just one archery session scheduled, the activity has proved so popular campers are asking to skip other planned activities to pick up bows and arrows. Turcios said one group only missed their third trip to the range because of a heat advisory that kept them indoors.
The Frederick County Department of Parks and Recreation, which operates the facility, also scheduled a one-day archery class July 29, which filled within weeks, according to recreation superintendent Jeremy Kortright. He said the department had offered a bow hunting safety course about 10 years ago, but this year’s class is the first since that time, and that campers have been asking for the activity.
The sport might also see a boost after July 27, when the Olympic Games start in London. Three films that opened this summer — “The Hunger Games,” “The Avengers”and “Brave” — feature archery prominently, as does the superhero TV show “Arrow,” based on The Green Arrow, set to premier on The CW network this fall.
“Sometimes the stars align, I guess, to shed light on an activity that’s always been cool,” said Eric Kuder of New Market, who attended the camping night with his son, Zachary.
The increased interest extends beyond camp, too. Rick Lushbaugh, the president of Tuscarora Archers, an archery club that offers classes and range access, said he’s seen increased interest in the programs they offer since the release of “The Hunger Games” in May.
“I probably get three emails a week inquiring about our classes,” he said.
Lushbaugh said the organization stages primarily winter events, but hopes the buzz about archery continues through the summer.
Turcios said it’s easy to learn the sport, making it a perfect activity for camp.
“It’s instant gratification — instant fun,” Turcios said.
Turcios first discovered her love of archery at a camp when she was a child, and said she loves sharing the sport with campers.
“I love being able to share something I love with them, and see they have this huge interest,” Turcios said. “There’s not much of a chance for them outside of camp to get some of these experiences. They get to do it here and they might get excited and want to learn more about it.”
And even if no one hits the target, it’s still a fun activity, Turcios said.
“If you do a horrible job, and can leave happy, that’s a good thing,” she said. “The kids are really supportive of each other. I’ve never had a camper tease another after a shot.”