It’s less about whatever skill level we have as fly fishermen or our ability to teach another person to throw a perfect loop and more about the positive impact we can have on their life. That lasting impact comes from time invested talking, listening, laughing and just hanging out. Being a friend, a good human... it really is that simple. The hard exteriors start softening up and the mentees start to be able to just be a kid again.
I am seeing this unfold in front of me in this year’s project. This year we have our first TMP Alumni come back for a second year. Last year the mentee was a great kid, but very quiet and reserved. He didn’t so much as crack a smile through the first three outings, but then we went to the river. He picked the fly to fish with, the spot in the water, and where the casts would be made. Within the first few casts the he landed his first rainbow trout and the mentor landed his first real smile. On the final outing at Dry Run Creek, this mentee never stopped smiling and had this self confidence that we hadn’t seen.
This year I was stoked to find out that this mentee would join us again. What I saw in him the first session this year was totally different from the kid I met in the first session last year. This kid, he showed up with that same bright Dry Run Creek smile and the self confidence was just over the top, in a good way. He talked to us, he laughed with us, he had fun, and he encouraged me and reinforced to me that this matters. I wish I could “rewind the tape” and let you see the difference in this kid. I’m not saying it was all because of The Mayfly Project that this happened, but it did happen... and we were there to be part of it.
Matthew Bearden - TMP Lead Mentor, SW Arkansas
SW Arkansas project is mentoring 6 children this year at a group home for boys who are in foster care. This is their 3rd year mentoring at this group home and the boys are having a blast this summer, learning how to catch fish right at the group home, as well as on adventures in the community.