Cam Fenson got his start early; I’ve been reading his fishing column since he was about 14 years old.
This month, I interviewed Fenson, now 20, at the Outdoor Writers of Canada (OWC) convention in Whitehorse.
“I’ve always loved fishing and it’s something I’ll always do, until I can’t tie my own knots or something,” he said.
He got his first publication credit when he was 7 or 8 years old. His story, about fishing, was in response to a “What I did on my summer vacation” contest. His teacher recommended the story to Magpie magazine, which is one of the few publications that seek student writing. They printed it.
“After that I entered more writing contests, got better at it, and ended up with my column.”
Cam’s father, Brad, who is also an outdoor writer, is often Cam’s first reader. He provides in-house professional development, when asked. “I’ve helped with the editing, but it’s Cam’s column,” Brad said. “He’d sometimes agonize about getting the right topic.”
Cam recalls: “He’d read it and say ‘This is what you could have done,’ or ‘This is a lot better’.”
It was while on a fishing trip with his father and Randy Roszell, who at the time was the editor of the Outdoor Edge magazine, that Cam got his break.
“Over the course of the trip I saw ‘Our Future Sportsman’ in action,” said Roszell. “He was a natural fit for the column, being that he had a wealth of knowledge and experience, even at that young age.”
He offered Cam the column. “We worked out the terms right there in the boat,” said Cam.
He’s dedicated to his column “because it’s fun for me to do, rather than a job. Fishing is a passion and it’s that passion I’m sharing with everyone else.”
Years of volunteering with Alberta’s Hunting for Tomorrow foundation also gave Cam an edge. He advises anyone wanting to break into writing to get involved with as many people with the same interests as possible. “It definitely puts you along the road if you know everybody first,” he said.
On the actual writing, he advises, “Put the work down and come back to read it through later.” His experience has been “If I pick at it, I overwork the column. The best thing is to walk away for a half hour, 45 minutes, and come back to it.”
His latest column is about his first grayling on the father-son road trip the pair took to attend the OWC convention. To read about the territory in Cam’s own words, look for Future Sportsmen in the July/August issue of Outdoor Edge.
Cam is proof there is no minimum age to start writing. Young writers can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.