By Rick Kagawa, Fishing Subcommittee Chairman
I take this from a Bob Dylan song. It is true and will always be true.
The world has changed, and the fishing committee has changed with it. We have had success with the online training packages we have released in the recent few months. There were three different trainings that have been adapted to offer in an online or blended format. These were Certified Angling Instructor (CAI) course, The Angling Educator for Scouters and a resource for merit badge counselors to use who are teaching the Fishing Merit Badge.
The CAI course has already had 100 students take the classes online. These individuals have done several hours of online instruction and many of them only need to finish some hands-on activities to become Certified Angler Instructors.
The Angling Educator for Scouters is a 5 to 6-hour class to help Scouters who want to take a Pack, Troop, Ship or Crew fishing some minimum skills to be able to be successful. This course could be used as an introduction to teaching fishing and is less information, time and skills than the CAI course.
Several fishing merit badge instructors have taken advantage of the resources offered to help them instruct the Fishing Merit Badge virtually with many reporting successful usage. Because of the success of this resource, the committee is also working on the completion of the resource for merit badge counselors to offer online Fly-Fishing Merit Badge. You can find these and other fishing resources at https://www.scouting.org/outdoor-programs/fishing/ when they become available.
As many areas continue to struggle with the pandemic, one thing you can do is get your youth out fishing. Follow your local guidelines, which may allow activity cohorts, or only family or individual activities. In each case there is a way for youth to go fishing. Fishing can be enjoyed as a group but is also easily enjoyed as a solitary activity. You can have a virtual fishing tournament where the top prizes can be given out for the biggest fish, the smallest fish, the most colorful fish and the individual who catches the most varieties of fish.
If you like to fish, make the time to become a CAI or take an Angling Educator Course. If you enjoy fishing these courses will help you to develop your skills and give you a chance to learn how to share this passion with you and adults. We have found that fishing is an activity that is enjoyed equally between youth and adults.
Like many activities in Scouting, fishing is an avenue to help scouts have fun. Fishing can also become a life skill and help your Scouts learn ethics and leadership.