It’s a wrap on a successful 2023 season! Andy LaFollette, TMPUK Project Mentor, explains more.
In year 2 at the Sportfish Game Fishing Centre, The Mayfly Project UK, under the lead of Susan Skrupa grew with a full project of remarkable kids. This charity specifically uses fly fishing as a catalyst to positively mentor kids. The five Saturday sessions were held entirely outdoors under spectacular weather for kids in local area foster care and or transitioning following full adoption.
Bringing Positivity From Fly Fishing
A Chance to Bring the Fun
“Build it and they will come.”
This 1989 movie quote from 'Field of Dreams’ has been true for the TMPUK. Bringing a successful US program to England took a lot of dedication and sacrifice. Quite possibly the easiest step was finding a group of highly qualified and committed volunteer anglers. Wanting to safely serve a community of kids that have had a difficult start with adult role models and to provide positive and transferable life skills drew project team mentors forward to share their passion for fly fishing. Sportfish generously provided the venue and through word of mouth and building on our local area network - the kids came!
The fun starts with matching up the kids with their mentors and introducing the project. Straight away the kids are engaged by placing fly fishing rods in their hands. Then, mentors introduce special topics of instruction on safety around water, caring for nature and the environment, native and invasive aquatic life, casting, fly tying and selecting flies that trick fish into biting, and at the water’s edge instruction on how to find, hook, land, rest, and gently release beautiful fish. Lunchtime was a much anticipated bonding time to share fish stories, other interests, and plenty of group smiles and laughter.
Creating Positive Experiences
The most vivid experiences are generally the first and last sessions, along each of the many firsts along the way. Many of the young people that we mentor arrive to the first session feeling quite shy and withdrawn. The program is structured to slowly build trust through the project lessons and by providing one to one mentoring. Any early shyness quickly transforms into eagerness to give fly casting for fish a go. Most of the kids joining a TMPUK program will experience their first fish catch with all new sensations. This helps build self-esteem and further underscores the brave spirit to overcome the unfamiliarity held by the kids.
The project uses colourful, graphic badges to recognise new skills learned, which the kids were excited to display on their TMPUK caps and rucksacks. On the last day, the kids want to prolong the project with pleads for another Saturday meet-up, so naturally the last session is the longest by time. The day’s curriculum starts with a surprise gift to the mentees of kids fly fishing tackle and gear to keep, donated by Orivs and Yeti, and benefits donated by Sportfish such as shop discounts and return access to Sportfish Game Fishing Centre. Thank you to our 2023 sponsors.
Life Skills Learned via Fly Fishing
It’s always more than just fishing. Successful fishing skills are transferrable to life and are presented by TMPUK in a lesson called Characteristics of an Angler which we return to throughout the project:
- Patience – take a deep breath, slow down, and sort it out or keep changing tactics
- Self Confidence – stay positive, you’re amazing no matter what happens or doesn’t happen
- Finding Brain Rest – look around, time in nature can calm you and bring relaxation
- Building Grit – perseverance (keep trying) combined with passion (motivation to achieve a goal)
- Seeking Wisdom – ask questions to people you trust and find to be good hearted
- Appreciating The Environment – appreciate and care for what you see (your environment) and the changes that keep running like a river.
The kids definitely remind us adult mentors of great joys in the way they congratulate each other on accomplishments, try new things that are difficult at first, share fish catching successes with a buddy, take notice and care of nature, and can really enjoy time fishing. Until next year…
If you are interested in becoming a mentor with The Mayfly Project UK, please visit our website at www.themayflyprojectuk.org to find out more or email email@example.com. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!