Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll have a lifelong hobby.
Few activities are so fundamental to the human experience as fishing. Hailing from the hunter-gatherer days, fishing offers timeless benefits to the body and soul.
Whether you’re casting knee-deep in a chilly mountain stream first thing in the morning or dropping a line off the dock in the heat of the afternoon sun, fishing is the outdoorsman’s meditation. Nothing but you, the scenery and the quiet. Fishing teaches people the art of sitting with their thoughts, an important lesson in our world of technology-enabled interruption. Beyond that, it teaches the necessity of patience and persistence while demonstrating that though good things come to those who wait, there are no guarantees in life. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying.
The perks of fishing extend beyond the mental and moral lessons of the experience; there are actual physical health benefits of fishing, as well. Getting to a good fishing spot often requires some variety of exercise, be it hiking, rowing or paddling. Sunlight gives us vital vitamin D, and time in nature is shown to reduce stress, potentially lowering blood pressure.
Fishing also is a fun way to use and build your Scouting knowledge. It’s a basic survival skill that requires use of knots, the ability to navigate nature while leaving no trace and, potentially, the use of first aid. If a Scout knows all that, plus the basics of the equipment and its use, he or she will be well on the way to earning the Fishing merit badge! Incidentally, it is an elective badge for earning a William T. Hornaday award, which you can learn about in this issue.
Above all, fishing is fun. It’s a great opportunity to bond with family or friends by practicing a skill together and sharing an experience. It can also inspire your travel plans or help you better appreciate where you live. Whether you visit a beach or frequent your neighborhood pond, fishing can help you notice nature in a whole new way. Next time you’re planning an adventure, consider adding fishing to the itinerary and see how the experience treats you. You just might find yourself hanging a “Gone Fishing” sign on your door on a regular basis.
Yours in Scouting,
Chief Scout Executive