Area bass fishermen give kids at Camp Goodtimes a day to remember
PEND OREILLE COUNTY, Wash. — Perched on Fan Lake at the edge of Pend Oreille County is the YMCA of the Inland Northwest’s Camp Reed. Every summer, approximately 2,000 campers flock to Camp Reed for a traditional summer camp experience filled with swimming, canoeing, crafts, campfires and more.
However, for one week each summer, Camp Reed becomes home to some very special campers. Camp Goodtimes at Camp Reed is a summer camp specifically for children affected by cancer.
From an outsider’s perspective, the kids at Camp Goodtimes don’t seem any different than the campers who flow in and out of Camp Reed every other week of the summer. Walking around the camp, most of the kids have smiling faces, and sounds of joy and laughter fill the July air; That’s really the whole point.
Established in 1985, Camp Goodtimes encourages kids who have faced extraordinary circumstances to take the time to enjoy their childhood. The camp gives children diagnosed with cancer, on or off therapy, the opportunity to temporarily forget about their illness, treatments and hospital visits. Children are encouraged to simply enjoy a wonderful outdoor experience while making friends and memories.
For the second year in a row, campers at Camp Goodtimes were able to add ‘bass fishing with the pros’ to the long list of memories they’ll take home with them. On Thursday, all 110 campers at Camp Goodtimes had the opportunity to get out on the lake, cast some lines, and wait for the fish to bite.
Fishing Day at Camp Goodtimes was the brainchild of Spokane business owner, Mark Lenz. Lenz, a two time cancer survivor, has helped with Camp Goodtimes for years. Last year, Lenz was out fishing on Fan Lake when the idea to do a bass fishing day for the children at the camp was formed. It didn’t take long for Lenz to make that idea a reality.
“I’m all in. I’ll buy the poles, I’ll buy everything it needs to take. I don’t care what it takes, I’ll get it,” Lenz said.
So he did. That summer, Lenz rounded up seven of his fishing buddies along with four boats, and all the poles the campers would need.
“We didn’t know if we were going to have two kids fishing or everyone fishing, we practically had everyone fishing,” he said.
This year, Fishing Day at Camp Goodtimes was even bigger. Seven boats were available to take the kids out on the water, along with even more volunteer fisherman. These fisherman included local tournament fisherman, Todd Ryan; Junior Bass champion and number one college bass fishing team member from Dallas Baptist University, Dakota Jones; and junior bass champion, Chase Heaton.
“Chase is a cancer survivor, so for [the kids] to see him living his passion and living his life to the fullest after surviving cancer is encouraging to them,” Camp Reed Director, Lisa Vogt said.
“All of the guys that are here this year are guys that are passionate about fishing, and they do it from the kindness of their hearts, just to help the kids out,” Lenz said. “It’s all about the kids. To put a smile on their face; and if they catch a fish that’s just gravy, that’s icing on the cake.”
Luckily for the camp’s young fisherman, the day was filled with enough smiles, fish and memories to share long after they return home.
More information about Camp Goodtimes at Camp Reed can be found HERE.