By Mr. Kevin Stabinsky (IMCOM)October 21, 2010
The fish may not have been biting, but 75 children from the City of East Point and Fort McPherson took the bait and came to try their hands at the 11th Annual Youth Fishing Rodeo Saturday.
The rodeo, a partnership event arranged by U.S. Army Garrison and the East Point Recreation Department, is a Family-oriented event that allowed children up to age 13 the opportunity to fish competitively for prizes at the lake near Fort McPherson's main post entrance.
Patrick Gould, director, U.S. Army Garrison Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR), said the event creates an opportunity for members of both communities to bond with one another, strengthening their relationships.
Such relationships are important because not all members of the Fort McPherson community - Soldiers, Families, retirees and Civilian employees - live on the installation.
Besides building community relations, children at the event got to enhance their fishing skills thanks to the tutelage of United Bassmasters of Atlanta (UBA).
Charles Blount Jr., a UBA semi-professional fisher, said fishing is a great educational tool that can teach a variety of lessons that can apply not only to the classroom, but in everyday life.
"It (fishing) teaches kids about nature, and catch and releasing teaches conservation," he said.
Other lessons include water safety and survival skills, Blount added. Blount, who has been fishing for 50 years after being taught by his father at 9, said fishing can also be used to help kids with their schoolwork.
"It gets kids involved in math, perspective, distance and reading scales," said Blount, a 10-year Army veteran who finished eighth in the first military national fishing tournament at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1978.
He said because fishing is a Family-friendly, constructive hobby, it also gets kids away from negative influences in the community.
For Augustin Blanco, a freelance photographer, some lessons he wanted his daughter, Viktoriya, 10, to learn were patience and seeing that sticking with a task pays off in the end.
"If you do everything you need to and wait, you'll gain something," said Blanco.
For Viktoriya, a first-time fisher, the thrill of catching a fish made her want to continue fishing in the future.
"I like fishing; it's pretty cool," she said. Zyana Williams, 4, also a first-time fisher, said she had a good time.
Zyana's mother, Tiquila Williams, a full-time student at the University of Phoenix, said she believed her daughter left the event with some good memories.
All participants received a free toy, courtesy of DFMWR. The youngest fisher also received a trophy, as did the fisher who caught the most total weight in fish.
Top weight catchers in each of the three age groups - 6 and under, 7 through 10, and 11 through 13 - also received medals.
"Everyone goes away with something," Blount said. "Fort McPherson and East Point really went out of their way to support these children."