Seeing the sense of awe on children’s faces as they learn a new skill is one of many rewarding experiences for educators.
Tuesday, organized by the Masonic lodge in Lula, special needs instructors from White Sulphur Elementary School got to watch their group of about 60 kids learn to embrace fishing.
“He’s so cute!” one boy, Lionel, said. However he was displeased with the portion of the learning experience regarding catch and release, wailing when the adolescent fish was relinquished to the water.
Some kids had better luck in the size of their catches. One child, Melany, proudly showed off the catfish that will be fried later.
Organizer Keith Chandler said he first had the idea for the trip, inspired by his time working in maintenance for Hall County schools.
“We were trying to come up with ideas where he could help, and we thought maybe we could help the teachers out with the special needs kids,” Chandler said.
Much like its equivalent of giving versus teaching a man to fish, the goal was to benefit the kids both in the short term and long term.
“They’ll take those (fishing) poles home,” Chandler said. “So hopefully that’s something that will get them back outside.”
Chandler has helped organize the outing for about six years, and this was the third year fellow Mason Tim Stewart lent his Julian Baugh Road property. The Department of Natural Resources stocked the pond free of charge.
Susanne Croft, a counselor at White Sulphur, said the trip has quickly become a student favorite.
“They actually talk about this trip all year,” she said. “A lot of them had never gone fishing before.”