Elk NetworkVolunteering Is a Call Anders’ Family Loves to Answer

Volunteer News | November 27, 2023

Anders Karambay may be in diapers, but he’s already an RMEF volunteer veteran.

Just 18 months of age at the time, Anders accompanied his parents, Melissa Hendrickson and Jamie Karambay, to their third consecutive Hiawatha Trail wire pull volunteer project in the summer of 2023. Wait, how could he have attended three annual projects if he was not even two years old? You need to do a little math and understand some family history as well.

In 2021, Melissa worked for the U.S. Forest Service and was both on the clock and on the scene at the first wire pull, serving as an administrator for the project. She was also a mere 13 weeks pregnant at the time. Yes, she was expecting and awaiting Anders’ arrival, so the soon-to-be bundle of joy was indeed there, too. So was Jamie, as a volunteer.

Fast forward one year later to 2022. Anders was now six months old and attending his second Hiawatha wire pull with his parents. Then in 2023, the trio again made the trek from Sandpoint, Idaho, to the Hiawatha Trail to enjoy the annual outing with their RMEF family.

“Volunteers that came were super jazzed to see Anders from last year to this year,” says Melissa. “They were like, ‘He’s so big!’”

Melissa worked 11 years for the Forest Service before becoming a full-time, ‘not -stay-at-home’ mother. She has a history of loving life in the outdoors.

“My parents took my brother and I everywhere. They wrangled us into the front of a canoe before we could walk,” says Melissa. “It was just the way of life I grew up with and that’s how we want to raise our kids. We have a kid; we’re going to bring him.” (At this point of our interview, Anders let out what appeared to be an audible agreement chirp in the background.)

“One thing we do, whether it’s biking or skiing or hunting, we kind of do that together. There’s not a lot of guys’ trips or girls’ trips. It’s family stuff so when we had Anders, that’s how our family is,” says Jamie.

Jamie and Melissa capture “Anders’ Adventures” (literally titled that) on his own YouTube channel.

“It was a creative outlet for me to not lose my mind and have fun. It’s just been a way to show our family and have a video record of his progress and adventures and maybe have some inspiration for other people,” says Melissa. “One of my goals is to get more involved in making outdoor videos so it’s also a learning process for me—a hands-on self-taught education. There are definitely a lot of women out there that do it and a lack of people with kids.”

Anders’ Adventures feature a wide array of family outdoor experiences like Melissa’s successful 2022 Shiras moose hunt, a video production she entered in the Western Hunter Film Festival.

And of course, there’s Year-One, Episode 27 titled the RMEF Hiawatha Wire Pull. It begins with Anders kicking back in his bike trailer as he’s being pulled along the trail, shows a visit to the family’s campsite and catching up with other RMEF volunteers at the project site before it ends with him standing next to an elk head wrapped in wire found by crews the year before.

And as for volunteering, it’s a calling the family loves to answer.

“It’s one thing to be a member. And it’s one thing to give financially. And it’s another thing to give your time. If you have the ability to do that, find a project where you can donate your time. Then put some effort on the ground,” urges Jamie.

“It’s a great way to meet people too. They’re a very welcoming group of people. There were people from Arkansas,” says Melissa. “And Missouri,” Jamie chips in. “It was a destination thing which was cool because we get to see what their relationship is to elk. We have a small circle of friends here, but RMEF is obviously much, much bigger and draws people for different reasons which is one thing that makes the organization awesome and does so much awesome stuff on the ground,” adds Melissa.