The Last Best Place | A Teen Summit Refllection by Erich

Erich is a member of the Hacklebarney chapter in New Jersey. He is also the founder of a fly-tying business called Fries Flies. Check them out at  2016 was his first Summit and he has been a very productive member of the Youth Leadership Council since this summer as a member of the Instagram and Website planning groups. The YLC is the volunteer body made up of TU Teens that helps to set the direction of TU’s Youth Education Initiative. Members of the YLC are passionate leaders bringing the mission of TU to their local communities while working on a broader scale to contribute to TU’s Youth Education Initiative at the national level.

The Last Best Place

By Erich Frie

Montana is a place of mammoth trout, few people, and a plethora of cows. It is a place that many fly fisherman dream of going, and I am fortunate enough to have been able to go there at a young age and meet some amazing people along with see some beautiful settings and get to do some great fishing.
Because of my participation in Trout Unlimited I was able to attend the Teen Summit, located on Georgetown Lake, Montana. To me the best part of the trip was meeting the other Summiteers. There were kids from all over the country, mostly from the east coast, and I got to learn a little bit about their interests, passions and what it was like where they were from. Through all the different activities we were able to work together and create friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
Summiteers by the campfire.
I know that I will never forget many of my experiences at the Summit. One of the funniest memories was when Dylan, Gavin, Kyle and I all went swimming in Georgetown Lake. Andrew who was filming the whole thing, waited till we all had be swimming for a while to tell us that there were swimmers mites in the lake that would make us particularly itchy. After we heard this we swam out of the lake faster than a mako shark chasing its prey. In all of the commotion my phone somehow ended up at the bottom of the lake as well, which wasn't a heart break, but at least the fish can take plenty of selfies now.
After the jump into the frigid mountain lake. Bye-bye phone.
My best memory that I have from the Summit came after our conservation project. As we were departing from the river our van was the last one to start the arduous trek back to camp. Not even a mile into the journey Rob, one of the staff, runs over a big rock putting a crater of a  hole in the tire. While figuring out the perplexing task of how to get the spare tire out everyone's imaginations ran wild like the bison in the great plains. We decided that the only way to have a chance of surviving the harsh conditions was to hunt some of the cows that surrounded us like a pack of wolves and become a tribe that roams the mountain ranges of Montana. After an hour of struggle we finally got the spare tire on and found our way out of the labyrinth of national park roads. The hardest part for Rob was listening to Alek tell his redneck stories of hunting crawfish and life in the Deep South, but we all found it hilarious. This unforgiving area became known as “The Sticks” since Alek thought it was a perfect representation of woods he calls home. 
Conservation project to restore a Bull Trout stream. Bull Trout are an endangered species. 
A huge hole in our tire.
Overall, the summit has been the best experience of my life. I made so many memories along with friends that I will have for the rest of my life. The summit also taught me how much of a difference I can make as a youth in my community when it comes to cold water conservation. Through this opportunity I have become a better leader and I am more confident in my abilities to make the correct decisions and take charge when it is needed. I really advocate for young teens to try their best to get involved with their local chapters and apply for the summit because it really is a once and a lifetime opportunity that will open so many doors to bigger and better things. Lastly, I would just like to thank Tara and Franklin for making this all happen along with the local chapters who helped make it possible for every teen to come out and have a great time. 

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