Fishing for Life holds youth event in NYM, Perham area

Contributed photo
Fishing for Life hosted a turkey hunt in rural New York Mills and Wolf Lake recently. A total of 15 campers participated in the turkey hunt, which featured time for worship, as well as hunting.

By Chad Koenen


The call of the rural New York Mills wild was becoming recently for a group of 15 youth.

A total of 15 campers and 20 volunteers went turkey hunting as part of the Fishing for Life program. The program provides hunting, fishing and outdoor activities for youth and adult throughout the region. 

The recent hunting trip in rural NY Mills and Wolf Lake was the first time many of the people who attended the event ever fired a weapon. Whether it was beginners luck, or divine intervention, the group came away with nine turkeys from April 21-24. 

“Some of these birds, the kid had never fired a weapon until that Friday,” said Ryan Strugar who helped to organize the event. 

The hunting trip included camping at the Perham Sportsman’s Club, which resembled a hunting camp. Four of the campers were from the greater NY Mills area, with the remaining youth coming from all parts of the state, including the Twin Cities area.

Contributed photos
Nine turkeys were harvested as part of a Fishing for Life turkey hunt in the New York Mills and Wolf Lake area. The organization includes time for worship, as well as outdoor events, as part of each event. The event also included an expansive gun training course.

“It is about as legitimate as a hunting camp as we can make it,” said Strugar. 

Each of the youth who attended the hunting trip, as well as the volunteers, took gun safety as part of the hunting trip. Strugar said many of the youth came into the trip with limited, or no hunting experience, and many of them had never even fired a gun before. 

Hunting wasn’t the only part of the day, as twice a day the youth and adults gathered for worship. The group worshipped and spread the word of God while on the trip. Strugar said the bond created between the volunteers and youth hunters from April 21-24 was exciting and one of the best parts of the trip as a whole. 

“The most exciting part about it is getting adults and kids to interact together out in the woods, in God’s creation,” said Strugar. 

Founded in 2004, Fishing for Life has spent nearly two decades serving youth, families, veterans and communities through fishing and outdoor programs.

The goal of the organization is to build relationships through hands-on fishing events and mentoring programs to impact the lives of youth throughout the region.

Fishing for Life is a partner with the Perham Sportsman Club, Haunted Outdoors, Havey Outdoors, Purpose-Filled Minnesota Habitat Management and the National Wild Turkey Federation either provided funding or were involved in the event.

The group also works with participants in the Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, JROTC and youth referred to the organization by the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, as well as other organization’s across the state. 

Fishing for Life receives wide support from national fishing organizations, military Yellow Ribbon communities, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Department, Minneapolis Parks and Rec Board, DNR programs, urban ministries, suburban and urban churches, local retailers and volunteers. 

Strugar said there are a number of fishing camps each summer and five winter fishing camps. Each camp features time for fishing, mentoring and worship. There is a small cost to attend the camps, but donations help to keep the cost of the camps down. 

Strugar said anyone who would like to attend a future camp can do so on the Fishing for Life website at or by contacting him at (218) 343-2717. 

For more information about Fishing for Life, check them out online at