LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, LET US INTRODUCE YOU TO film-maker, FLY-FISHERMAN, and army vet, CAMERON CUSHMAN.
Hey Cameron, we are stoked to have you on the DECKED team and wanted to take the time to introduce you to the world. Let’s start by telling people where you’re from and where you’re living now.
Super pumped to be a part of the team! I am originally from Vero Beach, Florida but have spent a good bit of time living in various parts of the country due to my military service. Almost a year ago I took a full-time creative role at American Outdoor Brands in Missouri which has been an absolute blast and we really have come to enjoy what Missouri has to offer.
What prompted the move? Are you missing Florida at all?
When Covid first hit I was producing Florida Sportsman Waterman for the Sportsmans Channel. At the time, the outdoor industry didn’t realize that there would be a boom in sales, so unfortunately, they decided to cancel the next season of the show. Moving forward I still had a few smaller freelance gigs going on but they were running thin as Covid restrictions ramped up. Luckily AOB found me on the good ole Instagram and offered me a full-time gig. It definitely was a bittersweet move from Florida as saltwater fly fishing was such a huge part of my life, but luckily, I still travel a good bit for work and get my fix from time to time.
Despite being so busy with work, you’ve still managed to find time to give back to the veteran community via the Iron Freedom Foundation. Tell us about the Foundation and how it came to be.
Kind of an interesting story because when I medically retired from the Army in 2016 I wanted nothing to do with anything military related. Fast forward a few years – I saw a post on Instagram about a nonprofit taking combat veterans down the Devils River in Texas, and I immediately knew I needed to get involved. The Devils was one of the rivers that I found my healing on, and to see an organization helping other veterans on that same river was powerful. So, I volunteered to make a film for them, free of charge. Next thing you know I am driving to Texas and meeting up with a bunch of strangers to float down the mighty Devils River in south Texas. This was their second trip ever, and since then I have been involved in multiple capacities as a volunteer and then being asked to come onto the board as the Director of Photography, and now the Chief Marketing Officer. What separates our nonprofit from a lot of the other outdoor based veterans nonprofits, is that we give them all of the tools and knowledge to go back out and recreate those experiences on their own. For example, on the fly fishing trips they get all of the camping gear, yeti backbacks, fly fishing setups, and everything else needed to take part in our program but then go out and do it on their own or with a new community of veterans they have met.
What’s the best thing about taking veterans into the outdoors?
It’s been documented in a few books now, that the outdoors have a “healing power.” Basically, going back to our roots of being connected to the earth and relying on it. So, when we bring these guys out into the wild and they are disconnected from technology and all of the craziness of life, they can just connect to what’s around them. On numerous occasions we have had past veterans reach out and tell us that they were near the end and that us showing them the outdoors completely changed their lives. I think this is something that you can really see and experience by watching some of our films.
What are the plans for the future of Iron Freedom Foundation? How can other veterans get involved with your trips?
The plans are simple, we just want to keep helping more veterans. The outdoors saved our lives and it’s only right for us to share that with others. We will continue to do our kayaking and fly fishing programs, but we definitely want to expand into other markets when the time is right. Veterans and anyone who is interested in learning more about our organization can find us on social media and by visiting our website at ironfreedom.org.
When you aren’t creating bad ass content or leading veterans into the backcountry, what do you do to keep yourself busy?
Well those things alone keep me pretty dang busy, but I am also a family man, I have four kids and a beautiful wife that keep me busy outside of my work. As you have probably figured out already, fly fishing is obviously a huge part of my life, but recently I have taken an interest in hunting and went on my first few hunts this past spring for turkey. I am gearing up now for the archery season for deer and I couldn’t be more pumped.
You seem to be on the road all the time for work, how do you use your DECKED system to stay organized?
I am kind of an organization freak when it comes to camera gear and my truck layout. My DECKED system kind of has a few different revolving layouts depending on what I am doing during that period. For example, I always keep a basic fly fishing setup in the DECKED system no matter where I go, from there I either build it out with more fly gear if it’s a dedicated fly fishing trip or what not. With archery season on its way, I am testing out various layouts for how I want to store things for the system.
One thing that I definitely want to touch on though is the D-Bag. I absolutely love this thing and I haven’t gone anywhere without it in months. I use it as my media accessory bag. I will keep various tools that I use on a daily basis for my content work, monitors, notepads, drone equipment, and a bunch of other accessories. I definitely will be adding another to the collection soon so I can run them for different applications.