Sunday, March 20, 2011

How to Take a Thousand kids Fishing On The 4th of July

Wow It's the 20th of the month. It's once again time to open up this blog to the greater Blog-o-Sphere. This is what happened if you are just joining us for the first time. There's this jewelry maker friend of mine on FB she has this wonderful idea. What if a group of us bloggers got together and wrote on the same topic each month and invited our readers to enjoy the resulting blogs. So I gave this project my blessing, "This will never happen, it can't be done, it's impossible, you're crazy"  That will make some sense in a while keep reading. You're going to want to check out the other players in this project.
Kathleen Krucoff
Laura Flavin:
Wendy Kelly:
Stephanie Nocito Clark
Brad Severtson:
Andrea Bell:
Natsuko Hanks:
Shaun Young
Pal Gooz
Beth Cyr Andes Cruz:
Andes started this project. Thank you Andes.
   So How do you take a thousand kids fishing on the morning of the 4th of July between the hours of 7 am and noon and love every minute of it?
   About thirty years ago two Iowa boys anchored their fishing boat in a quiet cove, on a nice sized lake, in Canada. The cove was about ten miles from the cabins the group had rented for the week. The two Iowa Boys started catching walleye. That's what they were there for. It didn't take very long to limit out, so we switched to catching bass and perch.  Mostly we watched the bald eagles feed their young. Mostly we talked about how we got there.  I made an important decision in that cove. I would open my first jewelry store within a couple of months. It was May s I remember. The store would open in September. We didn't realize it yet but come the 4th of July we were about to take a thousand kids fishing.
    Flash back five years. to three Iowa boys going to help Mike at his fishing contest. Mike was about twice our age. He had been hosting his small 4th of July kids fishing contest for a few years. He asked us to help him, you see he just couldn't do this by himself. I suspect there were about 25 kids at the contest. Not bad for an event his store was footing the bill for. The kids, we might have counted some twice, had a great time. The Fred, Ron and Brad fishing club held a meeting that morning, along the banks of the Iowa River.
 Fred was the other guy in the boat back in Canada. Any way we thought this fishing contest thing was a pretty neat idea.We could see it getting a lot bigger. Mike had told us that the contest wasn't just his it had really started as The Izaak Walton League fishing contest. The chapter was just about defunct. That morning it's membership quadrupled. BF@R became the Hardin County Chapter of  The Izaak Walton League of America. We had one goal take a thousand kids fishing on the morning of the 4th of July from 7 am til noon.
    At that time we didn't know what we had just jumped into. Mike thanked each of us that morning. BF@R
blessed the event with three statements we had often heard before. "That will never work. It cant be done and it's impossible, you're crazy. Since we had often heard these statements, we came to expect them, in fact things just didn't interest us much unless we heard them.
    Mike the old master mushroom gathering fool, (my ass) had managed to pass along his dream. In the statements above are the keys to taking 1000 kids fishing. Find what you think is a perfectly marvelous idea. It doesn't have to be your idea it just has to find you. Most people will think your perfectly marvelous idea can't be done, that it will never work and that you're crazy 'cause it's impossible. Get over it. Things are about to get interesting. I can not do this by myself. Understand for a moment Mike said that. It's not that there aren't things I can't do by myself. I could take two kids fishing. It might take 150 guys to take 1000 kids fishing. It did. The more times I can get the other guys to take ownership of the fishing contest the bigger it will get. If I teach them to ask for help because they can't do this themselves. 1000 kids get to go fishing. Mike did one more thing that morning. He thanked each one of us for our help and invited us back for next year. Saying thank you is a skill. If you're ever going to look for something to get real good at make it saying thank you.
   There's one more thing. Mike did. Mike purchased some green baseball type hats and sewed the Ike shoulder patch onto the front of the hats. At the next fishing contest he passed out those hats to our helpers. That's when BF@R got theirs. Hats were earned by the members. You couldn't buy one. They were earned.
Each time we signed up a new member and accepted their dues monies the chapter was actually investing $5 in the new member. Invest in your people and they will give back far more than they recieved.
    I've been threatening to turn this bit of writing into an E-book for years. It can get into some fine detail, all of it's fun. There's so much more to the story, There are lucky hooks, the every kid is a winner concept. The smallest fish caught won a prize, hot coffee would be nice, what if the radio station did a live remote,  you gotta chum the river and could I have your old pantyhose? your tackle boxes are here. It was a five year adventure. The news paper is going to run the winners photos as a double truck. How many times can you raffle off the same canoe?
    I was the president of the chapter for five or six years, R and F held other offices. My job was to write the monthly news letter, and arrange the speaker or program for the monthly meetings
 During that time I was given the national Izaak Walton League award as the recruiter of the year, only because they couldn't put three names on it. The chapter won the distinction and the National award for being the fastest growing chapter in the country. Cool plaque.
    BF@R  had one other rule. If ever we found ourselves the only guys at one of our meetings or events we would go fishing instead. They had fifteen minutes to show up. Never happened. 
    Flash forward back to the eagles in Canada. Fred gave the new store the ultimate blessing that afternoon. "That will never happen, it can't be done, it's impossible you're crazy! "
   Little did we know we were about to take 1000 kids fishing!  Didn't know that store, just a dream then, would go on to sell over a million dollars worth of jewelry in the next five years.
   Back to the present, I haven't been fishing in years. Enjoy!


  1. Brad, what a wonderful post and an inspiring story - on all levels. Write the E-book!!!

  2. Enjoyed your post Brad! Brought back some memories for me of Walleye fishing in Canada too....nothing better. I'm with Andes, write the e-book!


    ~ Kathleen Krucoff

  3. Hahaa... I haven't been fishing in years either! Love the post! I agree... there's lots here, write the eBook...

  4. "If you're ever going to look for something to get real good at make it saying thank you."

    Thank you.

    (btw, I had to sign in, so I am stealing my husband's Google account. This is really Wendy Kelly, from the "b-o-s think tank"

  5. how fun!! i cannot even imagine 1000 kids going fishing... poor fish! haha! i loved fishing when I was little - I'd make a fishing pole out of a stick and some fishing line and a hook and used bread as the bait. our fish loved bread... we always just threw them back so i guess they didn't mind getting caught too much :)

  6. Brad, I enjoyed your post very much....1000 kids going fishing, amazing!! I am in agreement on the E-book. I also loved your pickle post.