Spending time in nature can reduce stress and anxiety and elevate your mood. Our staff at Nexus-Mille Lacs Family Healing will often organize activities and events outdoors to provide positive experiences for our youth struggling with mental health issues. On a frigid cold day in March, our staff organized an exclusive event just for our youth— the opportunity to participate in their first-ever fishing derby! Youth of all ages and with all different fishing experiences learned how rewarding it is when patience pays off. A lesson in delayed gratification, our youth learned how to bait a hook while the cold conditions limited their normal dexterity. They also learned how to navigate and deal with the elements – cold wind, keeping warm and safe, and spending the day on the ice without the convenience of restrooms!
A highlight of the event was when Onamia Conversation Officer Dan Starr showed the youth a dogfish and shared tips and tricks throughout the day. One youth, Jim, showed great perseverance. While he did not catch any fish, he did not give up – he paid close attention to Mr. Starr’s guidance, and he re-rigged his pole and changed his bait frequently.
We’re grateful to several generous donors and businesses who provided prizes to help us celebrate and honor the event. Every once and a while we still hear stories about this day on the frozen lake – stories about who caught fish and how many, to conversations about the weather, driving on the ice, and ice safety. Each youth walked away with a t-shirt to remember the day, and an experience they will not forget. We look forward to our second-annual fishing derby tournament next year!