We introduced America’s 1st Freedom readers to John Annoni and Camp Compass Academy back in our January 2013 issue. A middle school teacher in Allentown, Pa., Annoni developed Camp Compass Academy to help at-risk urban and inner-city youth by introducing them to hunting and the outdoors.
“Imagine Outward Bound, the Boy Scouts, Big Brothers and Sisters, and school all combined, and you’ll start to understand how we use hunting, fishing and shooting as rewards to create upstanding young men and women in Camp Compass Academy,” Annoni said.
And the program does just that. In the nearly 20 years since Annoni began Camp Compass Academy, the program has saved the lives of countless young men and women—steering them away from gangs and street lifestyles toward safer, more productive activities.
Now, Annoni is sharing the details of his program with others who care about youth, in hopes that his experience can help them develop similar programs, thereby helping even more young Americans. In “Beyond One Day,” the 25-year-veteran educator tells of his years developing the program and experiences along the way—experiences we can all learn from to help at-risk youth find a better path in life.
“This book is my offering … a way for me to share my passion for helping kids,” Annoni writes in the book’s preface. “I was an inner-city kid from a non-typical family, so I know firsthand how important it is for our youth to find positive outlets for their curiosity, energy and frustrations. My intention here is to share my experience as an inner-city youth and to explore the things that helped me evolve into a committed teacher and mentor for youth in similar situations.”
To meet Annoni in person is to immediately recognize his zeal and enthusiasm for helping youngsters, even after a quarter-century of working with youth that would leave many stagnant or stale. That same enthusiasm is evident in the pages of “Beyond One Day,” and is, in my opinion, one major reason Annoni has been so successful in making the world a better place through helping kids.
While Camp Compass activities entail mostly hunting, fishing, shooting and other outdoor pursuits, Annoni stresses that opportunities abound for others to help inner-city youth in different ways. Those interested in helping just have to look for the right opportunities.
“This book was written for anyone that wants to work with kids,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be the niche that we work in. Anybody that has a burning passion, that wants to make the world of children better, will take something away from this book.
“And that’s my goal, for you to take something away that makes you better, that lights a fire under you and allows you to say, ‘Hey, here’s a guy who has been mentoring and working with kids for over a decade, and he’s still losing. I want to jump into this fight because ultimately, it’s OK to not win all of the time. It’s OK to be human and want to help kids be better.’ If we can make kids better, then we make the world better.”
This book has been garnering no small praise from those in the outdoor community, many of whom have embraced Annoni’s program and have generously helped with funding Camp Compass activities.
“His graduates told me, one by one, they’d be dead or in jail if it wasn’t for John,” said Frank Miniter, who authored the 2013 1st Freedom feature. “This made John one of my heroes, too.”
Pat Mundy, director of brand communications for optics giant Leupold & Stevens, agrees.
“This book, like [Annoni’s] work, will tell a story that creates opportunities for others and makes the world a better place for our kids,” Mundy wrote in the book’s foreword.
If you’re interested in helping youth, “Beyond One Day” should be at the top of your reading list. It’s available exclusively at www.beyondoneday.com and www.johnannoni.com.
To learn more about Camp Compass Academy, visit the program’s website at www.campcompass.org.