“I’d Rather Be Fishing”: Host a Fishing Day for Local Children

little boy and senior adult man catching a fish

Connecting with children outdoors is a great way to engage their full attention. Chances are you have some men and women in your church who love to fish. Get them involved in a 1-day missions outreach by hosting free fishing lessons in your community.

Before the Event

  • Plan the activities on a Saturday or school holiday when kids will be available. Fishing is appropriate for children ages 5 and up, but younger ones will need close adult supervision.
  • Enlist volunteers for the fishing lessons, as well as volunteers to prepare snacks, take pictures, provide first aid, and assist in setup and cleanup. Nonfishing volunteers can set up a station where children can cool off and rest while making a fishing-related craft and hearing a Bible story about fish or fishing. Genesis 1, Jonah, Matthew 14, and John 21 provide story possibilities for the event.
  • Secure a location by getting permission from the pond or lake owner. Make a site visit to familiarize your team with the terrain. Evaluate any safety issues, such as uneven banks, jagged rocks, or trash and broken glass. If necessary, schedule a cleanup day before your event to eliminate these hazards.
  • Announce the event and start inviting. Encourage children to invite their friends, teammates, and neighbors who don’t attend church. Remind kids to wear hats, shoes that can get wet, and clothes for getting dirty.
  • Gather supplies. You will need fishing rods and line. Ask for donations, check thrift stores, or purchase what you need from local stores. Buying new supplies ensures that the rods will come ready to use. Assign a volunteer to buy bait, such as crickets, baby night crawlers, or even little pieces of hot dog. You will also need a first aid kit, life jackets, snacks, hand wipes, sunscreen, bug spray, and other items necessary for outdoor activities. Provide sufficient water for drinking and cleanup.
  • Meet with your team to discuss the schedule, assignments, basic fishing tips, and rules and safety practices to be followed.

During the Event

On the day of the event, you will have a lot of excited children running around a body of water. Safety is paramount since drowning can happen quickly and in shallow water. Drowning can occur in as little as 2 inches of water.

Assign volunteers to provide constant supervision for young children. Enlist 1 adult for every 3 children. Assign each young child to a specific adult. As an extra precaution, provide Coast Guard-approved life jackets for older kids who are not fishing with an adult. Remember that inflatable vests, water wings, and other water toys are not considered safety devices.

Ask the experienced fishermen to provide general instructions to the large group. Then break into smaller groups for specific instructions. Caution children that hooks are sharp and to watch for others as they cast. Be patient and encouraging as each child learns this new skill. Repeat instructions as necessary and look for opportunities to praise children for being careful, casting well, handling a nibble, etc.

When a child gets a bite, be ready to help reel in his or her catch. Remember that some kids have never seen a real fish on a hook before—they will likely panic when the fish comes up out of the water. Be ready to reassure and assist.

Take photos of each catch before it is released back into the water. Text photos to parents or print photos after the event and deliver the photos personally to homes with an invitation to come to church.

Throughout the day, keep your goal in mind—providing a fun day of learning and relationship building between adults and children. And remember the old saying “Good things come to those who bait.”

Carrie McWhorter does not fish but agrees that any day at the lake is a great day.

Back to Top