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Devoted to promoting a healthy outdoors community

Nicole Vik/Enterprise Tim Schmid has instilled a love of the outdoors to many people including his own children, including his daughter Emma, 10.

Tim Schmid of Park Rapids, an avid outdoorsman, has been hunting and fishing his whole life; he works for Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fisheries out of Detroit Lakes and he knows everything there is to know about landing the trophy fish.

Schmid devotes a massive amount of his spare time to instilling a love of the outdoors with almost everyone he comes into contact.

In order to do that he founded Walking On Water Outdoors, a ministry that offers guidance to help children, veterans, families and even individuals struggling with addiction and either introduce or reacquaint them with the outdoors. 

He has already taken 131 people fishing this year and he said he will quite easily surpass 200.

"I was raised by good parents and I made a lot of bad choices. I made a lot of money and I was successful," he explained about how it all started for him.  "I was always focused on making money but along with money come problems, especially if you’re too young."

For Schmid it was nothing to go out on a weekend and spend hundreds of dollars on drinking, he explained, and that it began for him while he was still in high school. At 18 he was hospitalized with bleeding ulcers from drinking too much alcohol.

"Everything in your life deteriorates, next thing I know my wife is gone, and it would be easy to blame her because she left, but you can’t," he said.  "At some point you have to own it, it’s my problem I’m going to own it. I thought ‘this has got to come to an end.’ So I just quit."

For the next three years Schmid stayed sober, the next time he had a drink, it turned into the same scenario for him.

"I was back in and I couldn’t get back out, so I had to kick it to the curb again," he explained. He tried different treatment facilities and when he went to church he was cynical at first, but soon realized something was missing in his life.

Fast forward years later and he’s been clean now for 15 years.

"I know what it’s like to face addiction, and I just started all over, I wiped the slate clean and I owned my problem," he said.

Now, Schmid spends his time mentoring people who have let addiction affect their lives and the lives of others.

He has loved the outdoors his whole life but for him those activities with his friends always involved drinking and with no one to hunt or fish with he gave it up.

"Then I heard someone make a comment about dying and getting buried 50 years later and I decided you can’t stop living life," Schmid said.

He went back to fishing and he got to know a lot of guys in the industry, he started traveling all over and he decided that he wanted to do something that would help people.

"I don’t want to come off as a Bible-thumper," he teased. "I’d be the last dude to wear a white robe slapping Hail Marys. My agenda is to change lives and catch fish. If the opportunity comes to speak truth in their life, we’ll do that."

About three years ago a really good friend of his was engaged to be married and his fiancé had a child; there was no bond between the two. Schmid worked for a long time as a fishing guide and he suggested a trip North.

"I put a fishing trip together to Lake of The Woods, I’ve taken out enough people to know that if you’re locked in a fish house with someone for three days you’re going to learn something," he said.

"The day we got there to the time we left things had changed."

He witnessed interaction between the two that they had never had before and by the time they left Schmid says he probably got more out of it than they did.

He knew he would need to arrange more trips like that more often; three weeks later he did it again.

"We took up other guys with their kids. Now we have people from all over that have gone up there with us."

Now it’s grown and they go all over doing "some serious fishing."

"We’re very serious but we have a blast," Schmid said. "I want to see families succeed. You get addicted to fishing you won’t have money for drugs or alcohol because fishing is too expensive."

From there he started putting events together and arranging fishing trips, talking to different people. He guided kids, families, veterans, former addicts; anyone looking for positive change in their life.

Now he has six guys that regularly help with every event with more and more volunteering all the time out of the kindness of their heart. "None of us do it for the glory, we do it because we love to fish, we love people and I want to promote hunting and fishing," he said.

He meets people through their Facebook page and churches, but mostly word of mouth.

As word spread Schmid began taking out more people and he began losing a lot of rods and reels as well as losing a lot of money.

"I started talking to people and now I think every manufacturer in the industry sponsors or supports us.

People donate to events," he explained of the amazing support they receive from local businesses and manufacturers.

"They help us by making it affordable," he said. "I want to change lives and if I have the opportunity to do it, I have to take it. I don’t want to just get you addicted to fishing, I want to equip you.

"People donate things. If you don’t have it, we’ll hook you up. You can’t buy for everybody but people who are struggling and really in need, we foot the bill and provide them with fishing equipment."

Schmid explained that he has seen the interest for hunting and fishing decline over the years, "Which scares me, because what are we teaching our kids? We’re just going to let TV raise them? I’m not saying that video games are bad but we’ve got to get kids back outside, get them healthy, get them doing something constructive," he said.

Schmid believes that if they can promote the outdoors to kids it’s a lot healthier than gaming, tablets, computers or social media, "We’re losing the outdoor community. The biggest thing I deal with today, is many people are very comfortable texting and typing but you get them face to face and they’re not comfortable because we’ve lost human interaction. The outdoors gives us human interaction and by promoting it we’re promoting a healthier community."

Walking On Water Outdoors gives individuals at any age the chance to make friends with others who may share common struggles; individuals who are all looking for a healthier path in life.

"These kids are out fishing or hunting and I’m not saying the world revolves around that but at least they’re not out dealing drugs, they’re not at the bar," Schmid said.

"Whichever way you’re focused is where you’re going to end up. If you focus on your problems that wave is going to swallow you up. It takes a lot of faith to believe. You’ve got to have hope."