Clayton, N.Y. - Military families with wounded warriors and anglers with a passion for fly fishing will be able to learn more about Project Healing Waters at the Clayton-1000 Islands Gun & Sportsmen Show August 16-17, 2014 at Cerow Recreation Park Arena, 615 East Line Road, in Clayton, NY.
The nonprofit Project Healing Waters began at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC in 2005. Wounded soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan learned how to tie fishing flies and were paired with volunteers on fishing trips to promote physical and mental healing.
Donations cover all the costs for fly-tying supplies, fishing gear and trips. There are no administration costs.
The project now works with active duty, retired military, combat veterans and veterans with non-combat injuries and conditions. There are more than 100 Chapters across the U.S.
Trent Myer leads the current outreach for the Project Healing Waters (PHW) Chapter started at Fort Drum in 2008. The fly-tying classes Myer offered in Afghanistan may be the first Project Healing Water learning opportunities offered at a foreign location.
‘I worked with battle-stressed soldiers, teaching them fly-tying as a way to relax and focus. The fine motor skills needed to tie flies are good for traumatic brain injury recovery. The task helps you concentrate and compartmentalize your thoughts to focus on making the fly,' Myer says.
Stateside, Myer works with volunteers and angling groups across New York state to develop on-water fishing opportunities for PHW participants. Among the groups hosting PHW are the DeBruce Fly Fishing Club in Livingston, NY; Douglaston Salmon Run in Pulaski, NY, and the venerable Beaverkill Trout Club in Livingston Manor, NY. The Fort Drum Chapter sent three soldiers on a three-day tour to Montana earlier this year.
‘Being in the water is good for improving balance and strength; fly casting exercises the upper body; and being on the water is good for the soul,' Myer says.
Myer and PHW participants will be available at the Clayton-1000 Islands Gun & Sportsmen Show to talk with visitors about their passion for angling and how fly-tying, building fly rods, and flyfishing can help the healing process for America's warriors. Donations will be accepted.
‘The Clayton-1000 Islands Gun & Sportsmen Show is a great opportunity to let veterans know we are available and all free and to provide the public with opportunities to support our military men and women,' Myer says.
Among the new vendors at the 2014 show will be an 18th century flintlock weapons restorer and Thousands Islands Armory which opened in LaFargeville, NY, in October 2013.
Show hours are 8:30 am-5 pm Saturday, August 16 and 9 am-4 pm Sunday, August 17. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for military with ID; children under 12 enter free. Route 37 Building Supply, Wellesley Island Building Supply, Greg Henry Construction, and Surefine Market of Clayton are the 2014 show sponsors.
Cerow Recreation Park is at 615 East Line Road south of the Village of Clayton. For show information, contact Tom Neely, 315-482-4596, or Bud Baril, 315-686-2832.
Photo: Project Healing Waters participants in the Salmon River, Oswego County. Photo: Oswego County Tourism