Among the many topics covered two weeks ago at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s second-annual Saltwater Media Summit in Sarasota, Florida, one particular item got in my craw and stayed there for a few days. No, it wasn’t quite the hot potato that, say, ocean zoning or declining angler access is, but it holds its own special kind of importance that deserves attention.
It’s time to get kids fishing again – and I was glad to see that several organizations are continuing to put forward efforts toward helping with this important undertaking.
Bringing young folks into our sport ultimately lies in the hands of parents and, thankfully, our country has long traditions rooted in family outdoor activities. But I was pleasantly surprised to hear about the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s new program in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America.
Dubbed the “Scouting Patch Programs,” it offers both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts the opportunity to experience fishing (sometimes for the first time), hone their skills and, ultimately, pass on their newfound knowledge to other young Scouts. With each level of progression, the kids are awarded a patch in recognition of their achievement.
Growing up, I was never personally a Scout, but the patch program, now two years old, seems rooted in the best traditions of that organization, which was founded more than 100 years ago. It is helping to build the next generation of anglers, but more important, it’s helping to mold solid citizens.
I like that. And it didn’t surprise me one bit that RBFF was the brainchild. After all, its “Take Me Fishing” campaign has been, in my humble opinion, the best messaging directive aimed at getting kids fishing that we’ve seen in a long time.
Meanwhile, on the local level here in Florida, it was also good to hear that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is continuing on with its Kids Fishing Clinics, one-day introductory outings that have attracted more than 52,000 kids and parents over the years since 1996.
The organization just released its preliminary 2013 schedule (listed below), and no doubt it’ll continue to help introduce kids to the great sport of angling.
There’s no question that our sport starts with the family, and I had to smile recently at an e-mail from an old friend with a picture of one of his daughters giggling over a live shrimp while out on the water. But it’s nice to know that there are organizations out there willing to help facilitate and foster these family ties. It’s an important undertaking – and a noble one too.
FWC’s 2013 Kids Fishing Clinics Schedule:
Feb. 23: Crystal River
March 9: Fernandina
March 23: Daytona
April 6: Panacea
April 13: Pensacola
April 20: Naples
June 29: Cape Canaveral