April 2007

Kids Rewarded With A Day On The Lake

By Rob Price

As a child, I was blessed with access to rural areas where fishing and hunting were considered part of an everyday life. With today’s urban lifestyles, city kids often never see anything but asphalt and concrete.

After more years than I care to admit to and countless hours spent on the water, in the field and observing nature, I have become convinced that the true value and gift of enjoying the outdoors is to pass that experience along to our youth. The values that they will learn in communing with nature are of value to all their lives’ endeavors.

Children learn, through respecting nature and the environment, that those lessons serve them well in their personal life also. Respect and politeness are personal traits that enable one to become successful in business as well as in personal lives.

Personally, I have yet to find anything that better teaches these values than a hands-on education in the out of doors, and that is exactly the goal of the Huck Fin Foundation.  So, when I was invited to attend a couple of their events I quickly accepted.

Early this spring, the Huck Fin Foundation and the Sweetwater School District treated kids who had achieved better-than-average scholastic and citizenship standards to a day of fishing at Huck Fin Lake in Lakeside, Calif.

I arrived at the lake to be met by about 30 or 40 kids ready to do battle with fish. The lake had already been stocked with a large planting of eager, hungry trout.

The day dawned bright and clear, and boys and girls ages 13-17 had already been outfitted with rod and bait. Having been properly rigged and instructed, they spread out around the lake.

The fish were in a cooperative mood; leaping trout and bent rods were common and it wasn’t long before fish started coming to the bank.

For many, it was their first fish, and their smiles were ample proof that the effort put forth by them had been worth it all. It was apparent that more than just an outing, there was also a sense of accomplishment, and that the hard work required getting there had been rewarded.

Soon it was time to gather everyone for the return trip home, but I noted that most would have liked to stay longer. I’m sure there were many new anglers born and generally a heightened respect for the outdoors.

Saturday saw a group of younger children, ages 5 –12, members of the Lakeside Junior Anglers, arrive, and an enthusiastic group they were too. All were anxious to get started fishing but not before a short introduction about the safety rules and the ethics of good sportsmanship.

Once again, the trout were very cooperative, and all the children were able to catch at least one fish. Their smiles spoke for themselves.

No outing is complete without a good meal and the foundation made good with hamburgers and all the fixin’s for both groups. Many thanks to David Gray and all the volunteers!

The Huck Fin Foundation, whose stated mission is to teach children to fish and respect the outdoors and to promote the ethics of good sportsmanship, scholarship, and citizenship, was created 25 years ago, the vision of David Gray, founder and president. For the past 19 years Huck Fin has been part of the curriculum (on a volunteer basis) in the Sweetwater School District of San Diego County. Student members are rewarded with days of fishing, field trips, and an annual awards banquet based upon their scholastic and citizenship achievements.

Help is needed, though, if we want to continue the tradition and pass the lessons and the experience of enjoying the outdoors.

For more information about supporting the Huck Fin Foundation or how you might get a chapter or similar program started in your area, contact David Gray c/o Rob Price at rob@sdhookandline.com.