Tuesday, February 20, 2018

September 2013 – Message from the Guildmaster

September 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Message from the Guildmaster


Izaak Walton, 17th century author of “The Compleat Angler”


With the coming of September, fall is beginning to make its presence. A few leaves are changing colors, and nights are definitely a bit cooler. The sun is a little later coming up each morning, promising to lose some of its intense heat from prior months. We look forward to the changing colors, and hopefully a decline of yellow jacket nests buried in our yard.

We are fortunate to have a beautiful Izaak Walton park not far from our house. This park was established many years ago and grew to its present 325+ acres through the years. It features two lakes, one reserved for swimming and paddling, another devoted to fishing. The central clubhouse is bordered by a large picnic area, campground, kids playground and wading pool, skeet, trap, and sporting clays ranges, a beautiful wooded 28 station walking archery course, a 300 yard rifle and pistol range, hiking trails, and much more. We enjoy going there, and supporting the national organization which focuses on conservation and preservation of our natural resources. With annual family dues under $200.00, this park is one of the best values in our local area.

A couple of weeks ago the park held its annual open house. This day-long event is held each year late in August to promote membership and make the public more aware of the benefits available to them as members. This Saturday proved to be a perfect choice with sunny skies and moderate temperatures in the lower eighties. One member brought a half dozen kayaks and canoes for all to try out on the lake. There were food vendors, free rounds at the shotgun sports and shooting ranges, raffles for a new canoe and other prizes, tours of the facilities, and special incentives for new members. The national organization was present to talk about Izaak Walton and educate folks about its programs and goals.

Jan and I invited two of our best friends who had two young grand nieces visiting their farm for a couple of weeks. My older cousin’s grandsons were staying with them for the weekend, and we offered to take them along as well. We packed picnic lunches, swimming suits and sunscreen, shotguns and bows, and off we went.

Needless to say, the park was busy that day. All the kids (and adults) swam and paddled in the lake. By three o’clock in the afternoon, we had to pry them out of the water to go home. Seemingly tireless, they were enthralled with paddling kayaks and diving off the board into the clear lake. Our friends enjoyed the lake as well as the archery course, and we had a large turnout of folks at the shotgun ranges. At the end of the day, the park had gained over thirty new members.

I was at the park the next day to shoot some skeet and trap. Gazing down the drive toward the lake, I was not surprised to find it deserted. The picnic grounds were empty as well, and only a few cars passed during the afternoon as a couple of campers returned to their sites, and other folks ventured down to the shooting ranges. Life at Izaak Walton Park had returned to its normal state, one that is sad and frightening at the same time.

Talking with other older members reaffirmed my initial impressions. We reminisced about earlier days in the 1960’s and 70’s when the park would be filled each weekend, buzzing with activity. During the summer months, the lake and beach would be crowded every weekend with folks driving out from Lynchburg and other areas to enjoy the park. There was a busy concession stand at the lake, selling snacks, ice cream, and drinks. The clubhouse was often rented for weddings, family gatherings, and other events. Membership was much higher than it currently stands. The park was a popular place for many people.

Even though the park has managed to maintain a good membership level, and several of its facilities are well-used, I wonder what happened to the other areas. I suppose with the advent of urban swim clubs, there is less interest in spending the day outside at a beautiful lake, listening to kids splash and play, and cooking out on the grills at the picnic grounds. Folks just don’t have time any more, nor do they seem interested in preserving and enjoying the natural resources around them. I suppose it is much easier to drive to the pool in town and stop at a fast food place on the way home, all the while talking and texting on their mobile devices, ignoring the world around them.

The kids we brought to the park had an incredible time. They were outside all day, enjoying themselves, but learning as well. Only one of them had ever paddled a kayak before. When we went to the archery range, they each had turns shooting the bow. They had new experiences, met new people, enjoyed their picnic lunch, and never mentioned cell phones, fast food or video games. I encourage you to spend some time with folks, young or old, outside in the natural world. A small amount of encouragement may be all that is needed to help some people gain a better understanding and appreciation of the world around them, beyond the artificial confines of their homes, cars and electronics.

The Izaak Walton Member’s Pledge:

“To strive for the purity of water, the clarity of air, and the wise stewardship of the land and its resources; to know the beauty and understanding of nature, and the value of wildlife, woodlands and open spaces; to the preservation of this heritage and to man’s sharing in it. I pledge myself as a member of the Izaak Walton League of America.”

In my mind, these are certainly important values for us all. Until next month, your thoughts, opinions and feedback are always welcome.

All the best,

Jeff Bibb

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