--- Issued June 30, 2016

“From birth to death, anyone can fish,” said Australian fishing journalist Rex Hunt.  “I just think it's fantastic to see old people going fishing with young people and teaching them things.”

Hunt  would have approved of the fishing at Erie’s East slip Wednesday, when almost two dozen youths from the John E Horan Garden Apartments were mentored while fishing through Earth Action, as part of a “Nature Camp” organized by Sister Pat Lupo, OSB, and Earth Action.

The youths were supervised and befriended by adult members of Erie’s COPPS (Community Oriented Police and Probation Services) program, members of the S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie, and Erie Housing Authority staffers.

In all, about 27 adults showed up to teaching fishing skills to about 21 young residents of the John E. Horan Garden Apartments.

The event marked day three of the Earth Action Nature camp.

The first day consisted of a visit to Presque Isle to learn about the environment by walking the trail from the lighthouse, learning about everything from Monarch butterfly migrations, to plants and animals along the trail, to making whistles out of acorns; day two was spent at the headwaters of Mill Creek at the Erie County Conservation District, learning about raised gardens, gardens in car tires, grapes and vineyards, and then mucking about in the creek with salamanders and Crayfish in abundance.

Day three, the fishing day, was one of the kid’s favorites.

The children at the three-day session ranged in age form 6 to 13.

“The idea of Nature Camp is to introduce the kids to nature and the environment and to give them a great opportunity to get out and see other places in their community,” said Sister Pat.  “We do this once a summer, and this has been our third or fourth summer for this activity,” she said.

Sister Pat said a hugely beneficial part of the program is the interaction between police (COPPS) and the youngsters.  “The COPPS officers are always very involved in all of these activities,” she said.  And of course that’s a good thing.  It helps build a strong rapport between the young people and police officers, and that’s what we want, especially in these times.”

“For anything we do, it takes one phone call, and COPPS volunteers always show up.  We’re very grateful for that.”

“It’s great to see the kids interacting with adults like these and everyone enjoying it so much.

How much do the children enjoy it?

One little girl, age 10, originally from Nepal, answered that question for just about all the children there:

“I’d have to give it a 99,” she said.