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Teach a child to fish

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.

I would add to this a new wisdom, Teach a Boys and Girls Homes child to fish and that child will find a lifetime of healing!

Recently the kids on campus discovered and fell in love with fishing. Several clubs and donors came together to provide poles and gear to help foster this growing interest. I am not sure how many actual fish are caught, but the children sure are having a lot of fun! Especially in a COVID-protections-world, anything that gets them off campus and into nature is wonderful. They laugh and talk and enjoy the fresh air as they dip their lines in the water, hoping to finally snag “the big one.”

It is about more than just fishing, however. Fishing is just the backdrop for the truly important goal—healing. The Waccamaw Way is about seeing the potential for trauma informed therapeutic care in every activity. Fishing, especially, is a ready occasion for therapeutic connection that leads to healing and wholeness. Our cottage staff are trained to utilize moments  like a fun fishing outing to help kids work through their trauma and gain tools by which to navigate life in positive ways. That is the real “catch” we are fishing for with our children. Kids who experience positive activities and have strong relationships with encouraging adults are far more likely to become resilient even in spite of some of the worst cases of childhood abuse. So, fishing isn’t just fishing here at BGHNC! It is about helping kids to thrive.

Now retired, a longtime leader in residential care at BGHNC named Jimmy Tutor would often say, “Unless you change a child’s heart, you haven’t changed a thing.” We are grateful for heart changing activities like taking a child fishing that really work to turn things around for a troubled teen.

Dr. Mason Fuller Smith is the Director of Community Engagement for Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.

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