Unveiling Summer's Best Kept Secret: Candlewood Fishing Camp with Jed Wilson
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Unveiling Summer's Best Kept Secret: Candlewood Fishing Camp with Jed Wilson

Join us as Jason from Camps With Friends sits down with Jed Wilson, Executive Director of Candlewood Fishing Camp. In this exclusive interview, Jed shares insights into their unique summer camp, delving into the enriching fishing activities, experience on the Connecticut lakes, and the valuable life skills gained in this natural setting. Whether you're just exploring summer camp options or already considering Candlewood, this engaging conversation promises a deeper understanding of what makes this camp a cherished pick for many families. Tune in now!

Introducing Candlewood fishing camp

Welcome to our Camps With Friends spotlight. I'm Jason, the managing partner of Camps With Friends and today, I'm speaking with Jed Wilson, the founder and executive director of Candlewood Fishing Camp located in Western Connecticut. 

Founded in 2019, Candlewood became a 501c3 nonprofit in 2021, enabling the team to raise funds to assist children who may not afford the cost of the camp. Jed's love for fishing dates back to his childhood, cultivated by frequent fishing trips with his father. When it came to his camp experiences, there were no fishing-centric camps in his region, so he'd select any camp with a lake and dreamt of one day opening a camp that put the focus on fishing. Come mid-40s, Jed decided it was time to turn his dream into a reality, and so, Candlewood was born.

The philosophy behind Candlewood Fishing Camp is to create an unforgettable fishing experience for kids from all walks of life, regardless of their economic status or mental health. Jed's 15-year tenure as a teacher exposed him to the different ways kids learn and how various circumstances impact their experiences. Recognizing the elevated anxiety levels in today's youth, especially amid COVID-19, the camp aims to bolster their self-esteem and create a safe, fun environment for them to thrive.

A day in the life of summer campers at Candlewood Fishing Camp-1

At Candlewood, it's all about instant connections, as everyone attending shares a common love for fishing. With a manageable size of 30 kids per week, it promises a comfortable environment to form friendships and connections, with nature serving as the best natural antidepressant. Parents have often echoed that their children, initially reluctant to leave their homes, return from the camp thankful, having met and forged friendships, even driving hours to see one another outside of camp!

Candlewood Fishing Camp offers six sessions, each consisting of six days and five nights, running from Sunday to Saturday. With two locations, the first three weeks of camp take place on Candlewood Lake in a more rugged setting, while the latter three weeks are at Lake Champlain with cabins and showers. The campers take two daily guided fishing trips, boasting five hours in the morning and three in the evening.

The fishing guides come from all over the country and include professional anglers and college students who have received full scholarships for fishing. This ensures the campers are learning from experienced professionals passionate about the sport.

Although the boats used at the camp are fast, safety is always a top priority. Rules are in place requiring life vests to be worn at all times, and comfort is also considered by partnering with a life vest sponsor who provides deals to parents on comfortable vests for their children.

Campers not only learn how to fish, but also utilize state-of-the-art technology to enhance their experience. The guided trips are done using high-quality boats with modern electronics, allowing participants to learn how to fish in a professional and tournament-style setting.

candlewood fishing-1

One of the key practices promoted at Candlewood Fishing Camp is catch and release, supported by the fact that fishing is an immensely popular sport. Teaching the campers proper fish handling and release methods is essential to preserving the fisheries and promoting responsible practices in the sport.

The Candlewood Fishing Camp offers a comprehensive and immersive experience that centers not just around fishing, but the overall adventure from catching the fish to its eventual release. This includes the unique practice of "well fishing," wherein freshly caught fish are kept in a live well on the boat, a tank with running water that sustains the fish's life and health, particularly during the warmer summer months.

A significant part of their program focuses on imparting lessons around conservation and cleanliness. The camp emphasizes the importance of respecting the environment, teaching campers to manage and clean up the waste produced during fishing activities, which can range from packaging to discarded lines.

What differentiates Candlewood Fishing Camp is its dedication to providing a "hardcore" fishing experience, a rarity among other camps. Unlike camps that offer fishing from a dock, Candlewood gives the children an authentic bass-boat experience.

The diversity of the campers also adds to the richness of the camp as children travel from all around the world to participate. Its convenience to airports in Plasper, New York, and New Fairfield, Connecticut, makes it straightforward and simple for parents to arrange their children's attendance.

Candlewood also offers a six-day, five-night camp schedule that presents an ideal alternative for parents who might be hesitant to send their kids away for the traditional three to four weeks at summer camp. This unique mix of high-end fishing education and shorter camp duration has made it a favorite amongst parents and campers alike.

Importantly, Candlewood is a strictly no-tech camp, emphasizing connecting with nature and fostering relationships between campers.

At the Candlewood Fishing Camp, they emphasize not only fishing education but also community and personal growth. It's a no-tech camp that seeks to connect campers more closely with nature and each other. They also consider the importance of sharing their experiences with parents, taking lots of pictures and distributing them via a Dropbox link.

A unique feature of the camp is their evening fire gatherings where they create a supportive environment for kids to discuss both their triumphs and challenges, making each participant realize they're not alone in their struggles.

Candlewood Fishing Camp is not limited to boys, as they believe that fishing is not exclusive to any gender. They offer a co-ed experience with 8 to 10 girls participating out of 200 children every summer. The camp ensures that girls who join are never the only ones and that there is always a female counselor around.

Interestingly, live wells, mentioned earlier, are essentially buckets on the boats where freshly caught fish can be kept alive until they are released back into the water.

Lastly, if anyone is interested in connecting with Jed and exploring Candlewood Fishing Camp further, they can find more information on their website, CandlewoodFishingCamp.org, as well as their Facebook and Instagram pages.


Ultimate Fishing Experience for Young Anglers ( Candlewood Fishing Camp / for boys and girls )