Colorado Rocky Mountain Expedition - update 1

Greetings from Colorado,

Our Colorado Rocky Mountain Expedition is officially underway! This morning seven different high schoolers woke up across different parts of the US and all rallied for one purpose: to connect with our fly fishing team to start making memories for a wonderful summer. We have kids from Miami, New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, Chicago, and California bringing geographic diversity and an opportunity for kids to make new great friends from across the country. 

Our airport day was easy, with little waiting time for the longer drive that we had ahead of us to Granby Colorado. The kids meshed in record time and seem to already be getting along like old friends. Giving the kids an opportunity to unplug and connect with the people and places around them is a gift. We have a smaller team of kids for this trip with 7 campers, while having a large and experienced guide group of 4 leaders to help ensure the best possible trip for your kids. The guides here are just as excited as the kids for the upcoming 16 days. 

We have two co-directors and two co-leaders. Our first director is Hunter Shumaker. After graduating from North Carolina State University with a degree in Textile Engineering, he moved to the Jackson, Wyoming area to work in the outdoor apparel industry. It wasn’t until then that he took an interest in fly fishing. Hunter quickly became a passionate angler, motivated to explore the waters of Eastern Idaho and Western Wyoming. While much of his time spent fishing was spent solo, some of his favorite moments have been getting friends and family on their first fish. This will be Hunter’s third time leading this trip and he’s excited to continue sharing his love for fly fishing with others. 

Riley, a co-leader is from Alexandria, Virginia. He has been avid about sustainability and fly fishing from a young age. After finishing his first Lilliard trip in 2018, Riley continued to learn about ecology and resource management, eventually leading him to pursue these interests at Middlebury College. Riley’s hobbies include baking, hiking, and fly tying.

Hutch is from New Jersey and am currently studying Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder with an intent to focus on climate change. This is his first year as a trip leader for Lillard however he’s been going on these trips almost every summer since 2019.He loves hockey and played it his whole life but now mostly skis during the winter. He has a real love of fly fishing, and tying flies, but also has a strong passion for conservation and sustainability. He’s super excited to meet everyone this summer and catch a lot of fish in some really special places!

The other trip director is Jack who has been with LFFE on fly fishing trips across North America, first as a camper and now as a guide and trip director. Originally born near Boston, he now graduated from the University of Vermont in Burlington where he majored in Sustainable Entrepreneurship with minors in leadership and public speaking. With a passion for traveling and seeking new experiences, he has found himself living in four different countries across the world studying, exploring, learning new languages, and of course, fishing. His love of education and the outdoors keep him directing trips with Lillard Fly Fishing year after year. He has done this trips both as a guide and as a camper. Jack can’t wait to help give your kids outdoor and life skills that they can take with them for years to come.Our guide group is cohesive, medically trained, knowledgable, and knows how to make sure the kids are always having a good time. This is going to be a life changing trip for all of us. 

Once all the kids had arrived, we had our first lunch and then loaded up into the van for a beautiful drive across the state to situate ourselves closer to the park. The windy roads left the kids faces pressed up against the windows as they felt small against the jagged snow capped Rocky Mountain peaks. The roaring rivers we past stirred up excitement as the prospect of getting to fish crawled closer and closer. The drive was a beautiful one. Getting to see the responses to kids seeing the soaring Rocky Mountains for the first time is always such a treat. The kids used the car ride to get to know each other better while they sang to the playlist they had collectively made earlier that day in the airport. 

At camp we led the group in a proper camp set up demonstration. Shortly after the boys played some soccer and spike ball while we started the ceremonial dinner of bacon cheeseburgers to welcome the kids to the rockstar food we will be eating during the trip. Around camp we held our introductory speech where we went over rules, advice, and had the kids create group expectations for all of us to follow. Tonight is also where we started our first elected leader of the day position, where each kid will have the opportunity to step up and lead their peers for the day. This is always such a great portion of the Lillard program that we notice a ton of camper growth in. 

The famous Granby sunset welcomed us to the mountains as cherry clouds filled our first evenings backdrop. We gathered around the campfire to give each kid the opportunity to reflect on their rose (gratitude), bud (excitement), and thorn (challenge) of the day. Soon to follow was the colder evening and the bright stars to wish us to sleep after some full stomachs and long day of traveling. 

The boys have an exciting next few days ahead of them. After a fly fishing boot camp, we will get our licenses at a local fly shop after breakfast. Saturday will mark our first day fishing on Willow Creek, a local tributary of the Colorado River using a combination of small terrestrials and nymphs in search of a plethora of different trout. That evening we will prep for our upcoming backcountry for our first trip into the park. The kids will be learning rapidly about topics such as leaving no trace, how to properly pack a backpack, how to read a topographic map, and backcountry tips to help their experience. We will be fishing some remote streams and prized alpine lakes for majestic cutthroat trout. The kids are just as amped as we are which is going to make the first backcountry a treat for everyone. 

On the final morning of our backcountry, we will eat a quick breakfast before breaking down camp and hiking out of the remote and wild backcountry. Once back in the front country, campers will enjoy some well-deserved showers, clean laundry, and ice cream to reward their hard work. For the rest of the day, we’ll rest up and play some frisbee to let out any residual energy.

We absolutely love these guys so far and can’t to get to know everyone better and the rest of the trip! Until next time wish us tight lines and good times. 


~ Hunter, Hutch, Riley and Jack and the gang. 


Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions was started in 2010 as a graduate thesis for my Master's Degree in Environmental Conservation Education at NYU. The operating premise was simple - by coupling amazing wilderness fly fishing camps for teens with environmental education and service learning we can help inspire future generations of fly fishing conservationists. We have been growing our unique list of trips and experiences ever since.

When it comes to choosing a summer program for your teen the options are endless. For the teen who loves to fish, be outside, and has a strong sense of adventure we have made the choice easy. We are the leader in teen fly fishing adventures and are dedicated to providing the best backcountry fly fishing experience with opportunities for teens to engage in leadership training, community service, and backcountry camping.


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Will Lillard, Founder/Director/Guide

Contact Us

[email protected]

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions
2540 King Road
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

(828) 577-8204