Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hey Daddy! Step it up.....

I was a Girl Guide for nine years (for those of you from the US, a ‘Girl Guide’ is the Canadian equivalent to being a Girl Scout).
I graduated from three years of Brownies, to three years of Guides, to three years of Pathfinders; gradually stepping up the Girl Guide chain, learning cool tricks about camping, wildlife, survival and countless other subjects.
When I was done my nine years?  Hell, I went and helped to lead the little ones by being the “cool” Girl Guide leader amongst the Moms and the Grandmas (who believe it or not, were pretty darn cool themselves). I still think that to date, I am the only “responsible role model” in girl guide history to sneak candy into the bunks and give the kids a sugar high so as to keep camp interesting….
So, when my Aunt (still an active leader) made mention of me teaming with Girl Guides of Canada to help educate the young ladies about fly-fishing and the environment, you know I couldn’t resist. After all, I remember how good those badges felt when Mom ironed them to my scarf. If I could help these girls with some outdoor skills, I was all over it.
A happy brownie clinging to her Mom...I worked my ass off for those badges!
So, there we were several months later, myself and good friend Adrienne Comeau, heading to Girl Guide meeting headquarters to give twenty-five eight year old girls lessons on fly casting, conservation, flies and safety. It was a wee bit nerve-wracking.
The girls were hyper, and Ade and I fiddled nervously as they whipped our expensive fly rods through the air. “Deep breaths…”  I smiled at her and headed upstairs to begin the classroom session with the first half of the group.
Our group of little ladies (photo blurred for privacy purposes).
There they were; a dozen of them surrounding me at a table in an old conference room, and they were as antsy as the night I played the Easter Bunny in the bunkhouse years earlier. Hmmm.  Karma sucks.
Regardless, I quickly discarded my carefully formulated plan to educate them classroom style, as it was evident that their attention spans were about as wide as the wings of a sparrow. They shouted over each other, each of them trying to be louder than the last. “Hey, hey, hey!”  Me, trying to sound grown up… “Ladies, put your hands up if you’d like to be heard.”
A dozen hands shot up towards the ceiling and stretched as if trying to dislocate their arms. One at a time, I listened to what each of them had to say.  What I heard was truly an eye opener…
“My Dad”, in short, unsure, gaspy breaths, “My Dad he goes fishing all the time with my Uncle Bob…..”
“My Grandpa, he loves fishing!  He goes every summer to…..”
“Well, my Dad, he’s a great fisherman!  He takes a trip every year to…”
One after the other, each and every girl had a male role model in their life who in some way, shape or form, had the fishing bug.
Ironically, the girls all shared yet another surprising characteristic. Every one of them was eager to go with their Dads/Grandpas/Uncles, but simply didn’t know how to go about doing so.
That same night, twenty-five eight year old girls went home bugging that male role model to take them fishing.
Little Emma Cortes with her proud Dad (rightfully so!)  Adrian Cortes photo.
So Daddy, if you don’t already, ask her if she may be interested in joining you.  Show her pictures of other girls angling!  Show her that she can too!  If for nothing else, than to simply boost her confidence. Let her know while she’s young that she can do whatever she puts her mind to!
Danika Rodgers casting a tight loop as proud Dad, Jamie, snaps a picture.  This kids the real deal!
Yes, you may lose a rod tip (as I so painfully experienced that same evening), and yes you may gain a migraine (as I so amusedly watched Adrienne endure), but you may just develop the best little fishing buddy a guy could have. And really, does it get much better than that?