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Kinship youth enjoy day of fishing

Kinship is a community-based preventive and proactive mentoring program for children ages 6-18 living in Park Rapids and the surrounding area.

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It was smiles all around as Jason Durham assisted a Kinship youth with catching this northern.
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise
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Kinship of the Park Rapids Area treated their youth mentors and mentees to a fishing bonanza with the help of four local fishing guides and the Let’s Go Fishing Headwaters Chapter.

They gathered on Portage Lake on Sunday, June 12.

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Seven Kinship mentors brought seven youth to Portage Lake on Sunday, June 12 for a grand fishing excursion. They were aided by local fishing guides TJ Erickson, Jason Durham, Bob Bateman and Lee Skajewski.
Contributed / Kinship of the Park Rapids Area

Coincidentally, it was Take A Kid Fishing Weekend.

Kari Smith, a Kinship board member and mentor, hosted the affair at her lake property.

After introductions and yard games, they headed out onto the lake to – hopefully – catch fish.

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TJ Erickson, a local fishing guide and a Kinship mentor, enlisted the help of fellow guides. He was joined by Bob Bateman, Jason Durham and Lee Skajewski.

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TJ Erickson of TJ's Guide Service recruited his fishing buddies to help Kinship kids experience a couple hours of fishing.
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise

A three-person crew from Let’s Go Fishing assisted as well.

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Let's Go Fishing cruises Portage Lake, offering a pleasant evening ride for Kinship mentors and mentees.
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise

Kinship is a community-based preventive and proactive mentoring program for children ages 6-18 living in Park Rapids and the surrounding area.

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Bob Bateman of FinAddicts Guide Service said fishing was "pretty slow" at first. It was a beautiful evening out on the lake, nonetheless.
Shannon Geisen / Enterprise

Kinship’s executive director, Molly London, said there’s a need for more volunteer mentors, particularly men.

“We want all mentors, but we have a wait list of 10 boys. I think we have five little girls, but we have three female mentors starting,” she said. “To apply is super easy on the website,” which is www.kinshipparkrapids.org.

Seven pairs participated in Sunday evening’s excursion.

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Lee Skajewski, owner of Skiez Outdoors Guide Service, found success on his boat. Within an hour, they had caught nine fish.
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise

“This was funded by a $500 Walmart grant,” London added. Durham also presented Kinship with a $250 donation.

The money allowed Kinship to purchase bait, plus fishing rods and tackle for everyone.

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Before the boats even launched, the group successfully caught fish from the dock.

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Fishing was so bountiful, the kids were able to catch sunnies, perch, northern and more off the dock. Kinship Executive Director Molly London displays the impressive haul.
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise

Smith said it’s a common misconception that mentoring youth is a huge, constant time commitment.

“You don’t have to meet all the time, but just incorporate them into your everyday things, like our Kinship kiddo – we just grab her and take her to dinner. It’s just an hour. It doesn’t have to be anything big or major. We invite her to family things, if she wants to come,” she said. “You can connect via text or phone or Facetime. It doesn’t even have to be in person. Just be somebody they can visit with and share common interests with.”

London said Kinship recommends six hours per month. That could be a family BBQ or a movie night. “It’s supposed to be a friendship, just supporting one another,” she said.

London said there may be a stigma that Kinship youth have emotional or behavioral issues. “That’s not true,” she emphasized. “They are normal kids.”

For example, one of the mentees lost a grandpa and his parents were separated, so London hooked him up with a mentor.

London said she’s found Kinship kids to be polite and respectful. They just need a positive, adult role model.

The group caught walleye and northern pike on Sunday evening, triggering smiles and cheers.

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London noted that group events are held monthly. Other activities slated for this summer include attending 2nd Street Stage, marching in the Fourth of July parade, tubing down the Crow Wing River and a beach party. They also have tickets to a Vikings game.

For more information about becoming a mentor or mentee, call 218-732-0058.

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Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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