For most people in long-term care facilities, getting to go out and enjoy an afternoon of fishing is just a memory. But once a year the local fish and game club makes it a reality for dozens of residents.
The Parksville-Qualicum Fish and Game Association held its annual Fishing Forever event at the Coombs Country Campground Friday (May 26). More than 70 local seniors from care homes, including The Gardens at Qualicum Beach and Trillium Lodge, came out to enjoy a day of fishing.
Leonard Fong, one of the organizers of the event, said seeing the smiles on the faces of the people makes it worth it.
“I used to volunteer for a long time at Trillium, Eagle Park, The Gardens and Stanford. The reward when you’re doing volunteer work is seeing somebody smile,” Fong said.
“You go and talk to some of these caregivers here and they’ll tell you how much they appreciate it. It’s a really good way for us to give back to the community and we get a lot of support from the community.”
Nicole Webber, director of care at The Gardens, said the day-long event is peaceful and joyful for the residents attending.
“It makes them feel like they have the normal lives they once led before they had to go into long-term care,” Webber said. “The memories it evokes of their childhood or when they were raising children themselves and bringing them fishing. It brings them right back to that lovely time in their lives and the experiences they had out in nature and fishing.”
Fong said the association buys the fish from Vancouver Island University and puts them into the pond a week before the event.
Volunteers bait the hooks and cast out into the pond before handing the guests the rods. When a fish is caught, the volunteers will sometimes help to reel it in before removing it from the rod and cleaning it for the participants.
The local Fishing Forever event has been going on for the past 20 years in various locations, but has been held at the Coombs Country Campground for the past nine years.
Richard Thompson, president of the association, said the goal of the fish and game association is education of preservation of outdoor recreation heritage and the habitat, it’s also about getting people involved in the sport, no matter how old.
New this year is a trophy, awarded to the care home that caught the most fish. The trophy was dedicated to Brian Borrett, who was a member of the Parksville-Qualicum Fish and Game Association before he passed away in the past year after suffering a stroke several years earlier.