Fishing with PAL
This year the Euclid Police Department’s Police Activities League revived the Hooked on Fishing Program in cooperation with the Euclid Schools. Twice weekly from early May through early June the police officers and volunteer “fishermen” of PAL took individual fourth grade classes from Arbor, Bluestone, Chardon Hills, and Shoreview Elementary Schools fishing at the Ohio DNR Youth Fishing Ponds near Akron. These ponds are operated by the Ohio DNR and are regularly stocked to insure that when we bring the kids down they will catch fish. They are stocked with Bluegill, Catfish, and some Trout.
Approximately 300 kids had the thrill of catching their first fish. To many of these kids it was the first time they had ever been fishing, and with the help of the PAL volunteers they learned how to bait their hooks, cast, fish, and take the fish of the hook.
It’s amazing to watch these kid’s excitement when they catch their first fish; often the first fish they have ever caught in their lifetime. The squealing and laughing are contagious. From putting the first worm on the hook, to putting the fish back in the water (this is a catch and release program), the kids are learning sportsmanship, learning about the great outdoors, and interacting with a different group of adults.
The school buses picked up the kids at school at about 9:30 AM and we had two police cars, one leading the bus and one trailing. We fished from about 10:15 AM till lunch time, picnicked around the ponds, and then returned to school by 2:00 PM. The kids were really great and there were no problems (unless you call fun and excitement a problem). The teachers for each class went with us, and there were several parents along to help also.
DVD’s with pictures of the kids with their fish are being supplied to the classrooms for them to enjoy the trip all over again.
The Hooked on Fishing program was started a number of years ago and included the school fishing trips as well as occasional fishing trips during the summer when opportunities presented themselves. The program was furloughed for a few years and Chief Brickman urged PAL to start it up again this year and went with us on one of the trips.
Several Police Officers and civilian volunteers accompany the kids to provide safety, fishing experience, and help the teachers as chaperones. Often, parents and grandparents join us as well.
The program is just one of the Police Department initiatives, along with the DARE program, and the GREAT Program, developed to help Euclid Youth find positive outlets for their energies. PAL also provides youth basketball programs.
The obvious objective of the program is to develop relationships between the kids and police and other adult mentors.