FIRST SEASON OF BRYAN'S FISHING CAMP IS A SUCCESS!
The motto of the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund is "Give a child a gift of joy - Give a child the gift of fishing". With that motto as the standard, the first season of BRYAN'S FISHING CAMP was a tremendous success! The opening of the Camp this summer was the culmination of 18 months of preparation by the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund and the Great Hollow Wilderness School, administered by Jennifer Buckley and Gail Null. A sincere thank you is due to the volunteer anglers, mostly from the Connecticut Bass Federation, who provided so much guidance to the children. The teamwork of these groups insured success.
Week 1 (July 27th - July 31st) was a day camp for children selected from the Danbury school system and was held at Squantz Cove. Most had very little fishing experience, but by mid week every one could rig their own plastic worms and cast accurately. Their progress was amazing and almost all of the kids caught their first bass! Michael Carlucci of Danbury, age 7, caught a 4 lb., 1 oz. bass and a 3 lb., 9 oz. bass, a real testament to the expertise of the volunteer boat captains.
Week 2 (August 10th - August 14th) was a residential camp held at the Girl Scout Camp on Candlewood Lake. Chris Bielert, Jim Galpin, Chris Mann, Vern Kerrick and Grant Hagedorn spent the entire week with the kids. Additional volunteers were there during the days. The previous experience of these campers covered a wide range from beginner to anglers from New York, who had been on the New York State team for our Junior Bass Masters Club Invitationals. Guy Ouelette from Tolland, CT caught the big fish of the week (5 lbs. even).
On the last day of each week, a tournament was held and 16 trophies for most fish and big fish were awarded along with several special awards. Not one child wanted to come off the water early. But the most important results were the many wonderful and touching stories of kids experiencing a world beyond their own - accomplishing something they thought was impossible - finding out that they were important. The impact on these campers can not be adequately expressed or understood unless you experienced it personally. Being a part of this Camp was more rewarding that we could have thought possible. BRYAN'S FISHING CAMP accomplished its mission. We will do it again next year!
Special thanks are do to Plano for providing tackle boxes, Zebco for providing rods and reels for 60 children to take home and Sunland Marine for providing a pontoon boat for both camps. Also, thank you Land Tech Remedial, Lunker City, Darter Baits, McKala Lures and Wright & McGill for your support. The camps were sponsored and financed by the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund which was set up to support and promote youth fishing. The fund was established in memory of Bryan, the 1994 Bassmasters Classic winner, who died in a plane crash on December 13th, 1994.
Ray & Ronnie Kerchal
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