Underwriting provided by:
The Laura Moore Cunningham
Foundation

Reel Recovery

Reel Recovery banner [Credit: Marc Walters/Reel Recovery]
Reel Recovery banner
[Credit: Marc Walters/Reel Recovery]

Reel Recovery, which organizes fly fishing retreats for men with cancer, was founded in 2003 in Colorado and now has retreats all over the country, including Idaho.*

The concept behind the nonprofit organization is to help men with cancer by blending the restorative qualities of fly fishing with the therapeutic benefits of "courageous conversations" between participants. During the conversations, the men discuss both their fears of cancer and the positive changes in their lives that have occurred because of their illness.

"I think the fly fishing is the lure, but…the emotional component of it I think is the strength of this program," says Bob Macias, a retreat facilitator.

"It really gave us the ability to become vulnerable, to open up and say the things that were important to us, those things from the heart," says participant Jeff Entringer. "And no matter what anybody says, when you're vulnerable you're strong."

Participant Marc Foss with buddy Mark Stevens. [Credit: Marc Walters/Reel Recovery]
Participant Marc Foss with buddy Mark Stevens
[Credit: Marc Walters/Reel Recovery]

Dr. Dick Wilson brought Reel Recovery to Idaho in 2010 after visiting a retreat in Montana the year before.

"I really didn't want to go," says Wilson. "I take care of sick people all week long and I didn't want to see a bunch of guys whine on the weekend. Well, nobody whined, and I left there thinking, 'Holy smokes, Idaho deserves this program,' because I saw how these men were transformed, how they obtained a new lease on life."

Participant Jeff Entringer and buddy Mike McKenna
Participant Jeff Entringer and buddy Mike McKenna

The two weekend-long Idaho retreats are held at Wildhorse Creek Ranch near Mackay, in the spectacular Copper Basin.

"You get out here and you just forget all about your problems and your cancer," says Bob Rogers, a participant.

I just love the serenity that is here. I've been waiting over three months to come to this, says Paul Franklin, another participant. "The sun is healing, the natural rays of the sun versus all the pills."

The retreat is free of charge for the dozen men, each of whom is assigned a fishing buddy.

Participant Paul Franklin with Dr. Mark Johnson, his fishing buddy, and Nicholas, his son
Participant Paul Franklin with Dr. Mark Johnson, his fishing buddy,
and Nicholas, his son

"I really appreciate that this was put on for us and it was completely free of charge for our family, which made it very doable right now with all the medical bills," says Nicholas Franklin, Paul's son.

Some of the fishing buddies, like Larry Boyd, have had cancer as well.

"About 20 years ago I had stage three colon cancer," says Boyd. "We didn't have anything like this at that time and we were pretty much on our own as men to experience cancer and we got support wherever we could get it."

Participant Steve Koppen and his fishing buddy, Larry Boyd
Participant Steve Koppen and his fishing buddy, Larry Boyd

By the end of the weekend, the men have opened up about their worries and hopes, and have developed strong bonds between each other.

"Out here I talked to a lot to the guys and I've never done that before," says participant Robert Rye. "I learned I don't have to be alone."

Idaho Reel Recovery Group, August, 2012 [Credit: Marc Walters/Reel Recovery]
Idaho Reel Recovery Group, August, 2012
[Credit: Marc Walters/Reel Recovery]

 


*Idaho 2 Fly, formerly Reel Recovery, is an independent group that supports men with life-impacting illnesses.