Birmingham, Ala.—May 29,2019 — Think of all the great experiences from your life that give you solace and meaning; in their place, some kids have very few or terrible experiences of violence, abuse, or abandonment. For the eighth consecutive year, nonprofit On River Time will guide abused and neglected children through the fly-fishing experience of a lifetime on Idaho’s famous Snake River. Twenty-seven kids from Alabama, Texas, and Mississippi will attend in two camp sessions, May 28-June 2 and June 7-12. They will receive expert-guided training and fishing excursions, engage in reflection activities, and learn about the ecosystem of the Snake River and Grand Tetons.
“We know that fly fishing in itself is conducive to peace and self-discovery,” said Founder Steve Davis, “but when you join that activity with a totally foreign geography—this impressive landscape, new knowledge and new caring people with whom to share it, it creates a mental anchor, a vivid memory for a hopeful future. For kids who have attended it is unforgettable, and not always for the most obvious reasons: it’s much more than ‘just fishing.’”
On River Time attendees are selected for being exemplary models of behavior at their respective partner homes: Still Creek Ranch (Bryan, TX), Big Oak Ranch (Springville, AL), Homes of Hope for Children (Purvis, MS), and Palmer Home (Hernando, MS).
Traveling, Lodging, Training
Campers will fly into Idaho Falls, the first plane flight ever for many of them. The dramatic foreign scenery is a significant part of the experience—the weather, mountains, high plains, animals, and snowy peaks, are all so strange compared to homes in Texas, Mississippi, 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 using their very own Orvis fly rods.
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.
Campers are put into a context of self-belief and discovery, surrounded by supportive messages and reflection activities to make the most of their experiences. There is an interview activity, a worry burning session, nightly devotionals, and a pinning ceremony finale wherein campers share the impact others have had on them. On River Time strives to leave the kids with a sense of hope, bigger dreams, a sense of their own value, and the courage to trust others.
One day of camp is spent exploring Grand Teton National Park with experts from the Teton Science Schools. They have the prospect of seeing eagles, moose, bear, mountain goats, and more in the primordial Yellowstone ecosystem.
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.
“Exactly what will stick out to them in their mind’s eye is uncertain: for some it is the team aspect of fishing, 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,” said Davis. “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.