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Reel Outdoors for Kids

Reel Outdoors for Kids

As technology becomes more pervasive, the time children and teens spend on their electronic devices has been monitored with ever-increasing interest. Some studies put ‘screen time’ among children in their early teens at around 3.3 hours per week day and 4.3 hours per weekend day. Others show weekly internet usage among the young has risen by as much as 42 minutes.

Whichever study is used, numbers point to young people spending more time on their devices.

Fortunately, though, there are some really (or reel-y) good alternatives to screen time for children to pursue. 2 Bent Rods, a provider of fishing lessons, clinics and events on the Gold Coast has introduced more than 45,000 people – including thousands of children – to the sport of fishing since 2004.

“We are passionate about introducing kids to the environment through fishing,” said Samantha Beckmann, founder of 2 Bent Rods. “Our aim is to get kids off their computers and enjoying the great outdoors.”

But starting children off fishing can be a frustrating experience. Baiting and line tangles are just the beginning; then interest wanes if there’s no quick catch. However, giving children the opportunity to participate with others of similar age and skill level keeps them interested. It’s also helpful if their teacher is patient and can change tack to suit individuals.

Learning a wide variety of techniques ensures that children remain engaged, according to Ms Beckmann. “Depending on our program, kids will learn to catch their own bait with yabby pumps and bait net. They will tie knots, bait hooks, cast a rod, and heaps more to make their next fishing adventure more successful. Fishing school covers even more: because the kids attend week after week, everything they learn is reinforced. They also learn how to read the beach, fish with lures as well as bait, throw a cast net, gear maintenance, crabbing and pest fishing.”

With depletion of fish stocks a problem in parts of the world due to overfishing, 2 Bent Rods has made it a priority to teach South East Queensland children how to fish sustainably. Children are taught how to respect the environment – and even how to let a prized catch go.

“During our initial safety briefing, we discuss the importance of sustainability,” Ms Beckmann said. “This is reiterated when we are on the beach – we only use or take what we need for bait or food. Everything else is released. The kids get a kick out of releasing the fish.”

Unlike traditional sports, fishing can involve every member of the family, rather than leaving some members on the sidelines. Children also can’t wait to share their newfound knowledge with the family, according to Ms Beckmann. “We find the kids are keen to learn about the different aspects of fishing, which also includes the rules and regulations. They will then pass this knowledge on to other kids, as well as their parents and grandparents. Kids are great teachers; they have no qualms about letting you know if you are doing the wrong thing,” she said.

2 Bent Rods offers a range of programs specifically for children: clinics, educational excursions, vacation care, and even birthday parties. The provider started with lessons for children, but quickly expanded its programs. Introductory classes started soon after, and when they encountered a 92-year-old named Eddie who took a class, the provider realised a range of options was needed.

Programs now cover all experience levels. 2 Bent Rods even offers corporate events, youth groups, and team building days. The aim is to make fishing accessible for everyone, especially families.

From one class in Victoria Point 15 years ago, the provider has expanded its reach to conduct classes in the Brisbane, Ipswich, Moreton Bay, Redlands, Gold Coast and Logan Councils. They also offer fishing event management for councils and corporates, mainly targeting pest species. These events help educate the public about the harm that noxious species cause.

For those wondering about whether fishing can pull children away from their screens, Ms Beckmann said 2 Bent Rods programs have an enviable track record at bringing people back again. “Many of the people who have been through our programs do return,” she said. “Two of our staff came to us when they were about 12, and have been helping out and now working with us for quite a few years. One has even gone on to study marine biology.”

In some areas, councils subsidise these programs. To find out more, or to get involved, visit 2bentrods.com.au, or call Samantha on 0403 713 820.

 

By Chris Logan

 

 

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