Yesterday I received one of those e-mails I simply don’t like to read. It went something like this. “Due to the fact I got laid off from work last week, it now looks like I won’t be attending Fish Camp next month as I had planned to do. Instead, I need to save money and start looking for a new job.”
Frustrating, both for my friend…but also for the other fish camp attendees. The point is when personalities are missing from camp (whether it be fish camp or hunting camp), the overall experience for everyone is bound to suffer. Problem is, this year I have received several e-mails with perhaps slightly different stories, but similar results — coming to fish camp is not in the cards for this year.
Indeed, my annual Minnesota Fishing Opener Bash (www.MNFishCamp.com) is going on it’s eighth year and typically we have about 25 guys and their kids who attend. This year, however, due mostly to the current economic conditions, a few fisherman and their families are simply saying…”well, maybe next year.”
Quite honestly my usual camp of around 25 fishermen will likely be reduced to about 15 or 16 folks this year. I’ve been told, even by some who still have their jobs, that they don’t dare take off the time from work. Taking a vacation day or two at work might indicate to a supervisor that perhaps play is more important than work. Understandably, nervous employees don’t want to give any reason for the ax to fall on them next.
Heck, I don’t blame them. Other “regulars” to camp are likely not as worried about their job, but some have had their spouses lose a job. The net result is the same…the family budget is being stretched to the max and a fisherman finds it hard to justify taking a personal vacation when the rest of the family may be sacrificing an upcoming summer vacation due to lack of funds.
Yea, times are tough and quite honestly I suspect there are a lot of excruciatingly difficult decisions being made around the kitchen table these days. Perhaps that big game hunting trip being planned to the Western states this fall has been put on hold for many folks. Likewise, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if deposits made earlier for Canadian fishing resort vacations are simply forfeited because life situations have drastically changed since making those original commitments.
That’s one of the challenges that always faces a bunch of sportsmen who plan activities together. As a group, you often pro-rate the costs of the adventure out over several participants, but when folks drop out, even for perfectly understandable reasons, it puts more of a financial burden on those hunters/fishermen who still remain.
As for my 2009 Minnesota Fishing Opener Bash, the tradition will continue on like it has for many years prior to this recession challenged year. Those of us attending probably will make do with the same old boat and equipment we’ve used in the past. Sure, it would be nice to sport something new…but I’m sure most of us this year will feel fortunate enough just to be present in camp.
Optimistically speaking, recessions don’t last forever…and, of course, there is always next year to once again renew the spirit of the outdoor tradition being missed. Rarely are life situations permanent, and with that belief we can forge ahead knowing that we are all currently living in some extraordinary times with better days surely ahead for all of us.
© 2009 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.