Birmingham, Alabama — May 1, 2018 — For the seventh consecutive year, On River Time is hosting a fly fishing camp in scenic Idaho for specially selected abused children between ages 12 and 17. The nonprofit covers all expenses for a five day camp full of personal growth, ecology learning and catching trout from a guided drift boat at one of the best spots in the country. This year, two five-day sessions will be held, May 29-June 3, and June 11-16.
What are good memories worth? Many of us seamlessly navigate through positive experiences without pause. On the other hand, painful memories are visceral landmines we do best to avoid. Memories and experiences tell us about who we are, how valuable we are to others, who we can trust, and what matters. They also point toward a future depending on the narratives we write ourselves. What if you had lived near a dumpster for food, been abandoned by successive sets of relatives, abused by someone you trusted, or only recently had received three meals a day?
On River Time is a nonprofit that takes kids with some of the worst memories available to humans to a fly fishing camp as far away as possible from everything they know—the chance for a dramatic pivot. It’s the beginning of a mentoring relationship to reset self-perceptions for the future of these abused and neglected children.
This year’s 21 campers have been carefully selected as outstanding examples of good behavior and enthusiasm at On River Time’s partner ranches. They have been through introductory fly casting lessons and camp primers. This year, there will be five peer mentors attending, who represent camps from 2014 to 2017.
The Fish On camp serves as a motivator and reward year after year. Peer mentors, exemplary campers from previous years, have a chance to return their senior year to help lead camp activities and set the tone for new campers.
Campers will fly in to Idaho Falls, the first plane flight for many of them. The dramatic foreign scenery is a significant part of the experience—the weather, mountains, high plains, animals, snow, are all so strange compared to homes in Texas and Alabama. They will spend their days at the 2014 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Lodge of Year, The Lodge at Palisades Creek, with everything they need provided. Lifelong guides will show them what it takes to catch the three types of trout that live in the Snake River.
Fishing days are organized around team competitions. Each boat consists of a mentor (adult board member, junior board member, staff, or peer mentor) and a camper who inevitably form a connection in their eight hours on the water together. Nights are for reflection, sharing and growth activities, including a worry-burning ceremony and an interviewing activity (check out the 2017 camp blog here).
One day of camp is spent exploring Grand Teton National Park with experts from the Teton Science Schools. The prospect of seeing eagles, moose, bear, mountain goats, and more in the primordial Yellowstone ecosystem is unforgettable.
Exactly what will stick out to them in their mind’s eye is uncertain: for some it is the team aspect of fishing, for others the opportunity to speak and share feelings, and for every kid so far it is in part catching a trout by their own efforts and skill. Every camper remarks that this is among the most unique positive experiences of their lives so far.
About On River Time
On River Time exists to change the lives of children who have survived abuse and neglect. A registered 501 (C)(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.