Picture your kids out on a boat: glistening water in every direction, patiently waiting for the fish to bite. You know what that is? A starter kit for instilling good values.
Indeed, a self-caught dinner is a nice reward for a day on the lake, river or ocean, but it’s just the beginning. All kinds of lessons present themselves, in the most lovely and subtle of ways, during a family fishing outing. Here are 10 prime benefits.
You can tell Sammy about the value of patience from the nursery through high school. We all know he won’t get it until he learns it from personal experience. Tada! Fishing delivers that lesson. Rare is the expedition where he’ll cast his bait, catch a fish and head home. Instead, even the most experienced angler has no choice but to wait… and wait… and wait. When the fish bites, though, what a thrill. Ka-ching! Payoff.
Patience is part of the picture, but it takes way more to become skilled at fishing. As Kaitlyn starts to pick up on subtle details, she’ll become better at luring and reeling in a catch while learning the importance of noticing and respecting subtle elements that make a difference. Over time, she’ll pick up on how to read the water, set the drag properly or pick up on, say, trouts’ morning habits.
We all want to be good at recreational fishing (and everything else, really) the second we try it. Life doesn’t work that way. Over time we learn to embrace the satisfaction that comes with slowly building on what we know until we become seasoned at it. Fishing is no exception. Now, who wants to try casting the line first?
Maybe Jared is too squeamish to put a live worm on a hook, or Madison squeals with fright at thought of taking an active fish off. In swoops a sibling, parent or professional fishing guide to take over. That’s not only a polite, and practical, action to take. It’s helping. By being helped, children learn the value of partnering with others. No need to say a word; simply assist and smile.
Help or no help, fishing often reaps food for the next meal. By taking your children fishing, you are allowing them to experience the satisfaction of sourcing their own sustenance. Luring in a flounder, for example, certainly feels better than picking up a fried fish sandwich at the drive-through window. It’s like growing your own tomatoes, except you all get away from the house and office for a nice long spell.
Your kids will try to convince you that video games builds hand-eye coordination. True? Who cares. When these same children go fishing, coordination takes on a different kind of role. Sitting or standing firmly, holding a rod in the right places at the correct angle, casting a line into the water not the bushes, reeling in a catch at a speed that allows the fish to stay on the line … every one of these tasks takes coordination – and doesn’t involve virtually blasting an alien. We can’t swear kids will be so sold on the virtues of physical coordination that they’ll start doing yoga back in the apartment with Mom, but they will experience the pros of mastering coordination and the cons of lacking it.
Little ones know this, but hey, we’ve all been ‘tweens and teens, which means we’ve all loathed the idea of a family outing. Convince your troupe to be trapped on a charter with you, and by day’s end they’ll recognize that their family is kind of cool after all. Fresh air, a challenging task, plus hopefully a dose of success at that task, sets you all up for a fine time together. Charters really help here, as having a professional fishing guide handle the chores means the rest of you needn’t bicker over who gets the dirty work.
OK, that’s not a value, per se. It is valuable, though. Children today are so tuned in via smartphones, tablets, laptops and TVs, they’re rarely out in the open with only the sounds that nature provides. After a day on the water, filled with the tune of fish jumping and birds chirping, ask your clan to assess their relaxation levels. Chances are every one of you will feel diffused, blissfully at ease and suddenly not panicked at the thought of missing an e-notifications the second it arrives. And you know what? Some of that is from the intense focus it takes to fish successfully. When you’re totally absorbed in catching, reeling in and unhooking a fish, that’s it: your mind isn’t wandering to the latest superhero movie or Snapchat pic. You’re in it 100 percent, which is beneficial the way meditation is.
Let’s say your family sees beer cans along the coast, or straws floating on the lake. When carelessly discarded trash sullies an otherwise pristine environment, that blasts the message that littering is wrong. Likewise, if another boat’s gas tank seems to be leaking, or pollution from a factory clouds the river, your children will see the direct effect of people not protecting the world’s natural treasures.
Let’s say another boat gets too close to yours, disturbing the water where you’re poised to catch fish. Or maybe you want to nestle into a certain inlet among the mangroves but another boat is there. In both examples, young’uns will observe behaviors that say, “Give me space and I’ll do the same for you.” Will they incorporate that lesson on the car ride home? No, they’re kids and will scuffle in the back seat. But they’ll see the respect of boundaries in action, and they’ll remember.
Really, fishing with the family is about so much more than fishing. Give it a go and set up a family fishing adventure.
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Rona Gindin is a multimedia writer, editor and television personality covering a broad range of subjects for national and local media outlets. Working from an Orlando base, she’s Central Florida’s go-to source for information on the destination’s restaurants and attractions.
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