Survivors of Abuse and Neglect Find Peace on the Water
Birmingham Ala.—July 23, 2015—From June 6-11, On River Time provided 15 children who have experienced horrible things—often betrayal from their own families—a trip they will never forget: fly fishing at the Snake River (Idaho). This year, its fourth annual journey, ORT nearly doubled the highest number of children taken and introduced important new experiences.
“A simple message resounds throughout this trip: you are valuable,” says Founder Steve Davis. “We want them to understand they are feel worthy of this trip and of their wildest dreams.” Davis continues, “I let them know that this trip, having them experience all that grandeur is my dream, which came true despite challenges.”
This year’s trip to The Lodge at Palisades Creek pointed the way forward toward a more camp-like experience for the children. In previous years, a vast majority of participants have been from Alabama’s Big Oak Ranch. This year ORT partnered with Still Creek Ranch from Texas, introducing four new faces. This experience entails responsibility and maturity; those chosen have demonstrated to their guardians that they are prepared to make the most of On River Time—it is a reward.
Each year has brought changes to maximize positive impact. The children always fish with different mentor partners and different guides each day on the water (these are also their partners for daily competitions); they learn about conservation from local fish and game experts; they have breakfast and dinner together. Their time on the water and at camp is meant to reinforce the importance of trust to healthy relationships. Here were some of the new elements to the 2015 trip (you can also review the daily trip blog here):
- Senior “peer mentors,” who had attended in previous years and were chosen to acclimate new participants and demonstrate their own leadership ability.
- A full day of service, which included cleanup along the river dam and construction of a fire pit.
- Nightly devotionals: reflections on motivation, self-worth, and achievement
- A guided tour through Yellowstone National Park
- A final “pinning” ceremony wherein each child recognized someone who had been special to them during the trip
All this was made possible by a gracious fundraising response in 2014. In September, ORT raised over $100,000 in its first event, Fish On. The funds enabled the new partnership and brought into sight an On River Time Cabin, to be built at The Lodge when funding goals are reached. Executive Director Jeana Durst hopes that the successes of this year and the progress on cabin plans will demonstrate to donors how quickly this young nonprofit can fulfill its vision.
“The kids every year have touching stories and challenges, yet they are still optimistic and hardworking—they have earned this,” says Durst. “We are driven to create a better and better experience that leaves a positive imprint on them.”
This year’s Fish On fundraiser will be held September 24 at the Florentine Building in downtown Birmingham from 6-10p.m. John Croyle, founder of Big Oak Ranch, will be the guest speaker at the cocktail dinner and live auction. Granger Thagard Auctioneers will perform the live auction.
About On River Time
On River Time exists to change the lives of children who have survived abuse and neglect. A registered 501 ©(3) organization, it uses fly fishing and mentorship to provide middle and high school aged children with hope and the inspiration to dream big. While the program is grounded in an unforgettable fly fishing trip, On River Time’s mentor network supports participants throughout the year in a way that cultivates their ability to trust and instills a heightened sense of value.
Selecting participants from reputable nonprofit partners, On River Time pays all expenses for these young people and their guardians to enjoy fly fishing at The Lodge at Palisades Creek on the banks of the Snake River in Idaho. They also learn about river conservation and tour Yellowstone National Park. More importantly, they make connections with others who uniquely understand them. On River Time, founded in 2012, is based in Birmingham, Alabama and currently serves children from Big Oak Ranch in Springville, Alabama and Still Creek Ranch in Bryan, Texas. On River Time is a “For Impact” organization.