February 2020 News/Columns

Waypoints: Learning to Teach

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It’s easy to put life back into perspective after enjoying the freedom of being in a boat. Nate, Geremy & Scott (Photo courtesy Healing Patriots)

 

Waypoints: Learning to Teach

Learning to fish and live life

by Geremy Olson

 

WayPoint: If you leave every place you visit better than you found it, the world will look better. If you leave every person better than you found them the world will change for the better.

 

Growing up I vividly remember wondering why some of the guys I shared a shore line with were so angry about life. Personally, I couldn’t understand. If you’re out fishing how can anything be bad enough to not be happy. Yet there they were, sitting on the shore angry. For me fishing and the outdoors was an escape from all the bad things in life and was something that I loved to do.

Picking up trash at the end of every fishing trip was just part of my routine because it was what I was taught to do. You should always leave every place better than you found it. What’s crazy about this is that it’s so simple to do, takes no time and makes places look better. I have fished multiple places over the years that were littered with garbage but after a few fishing trips they cleaned up nicely. All it took was a little bit of caring and a little bit of time to make a big difference.

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Geremy Olson is proof-positive that the joy of fishing is contagious when you share the water with somebody in need. (Photo courtesy Healing Patriots)

Over the years of helping people I’ve encountered on and off the water, I discovered that it didn’t take any more time or that much effort. I learned all I need to do is help those who need help with the skills I have. In most cases people just need an extra hand, a little encouragement or someone to point them in the right direction. The key is to simply take the time to meet people where they are at when the opportunities arise.

Life changed for me when, as a volunteer firefighter, I was burned and broke a leg falling off of a fire truck into a grass fire. It was over a couple of years of slow recovery and many setbacks that I started to get angry just like those guys I grew up fishing with. I sat at home in my wheelchair wishing I could get out on the water. I started resenting my situation and hated not being able to get out fishing. I can’t count the number of people that walked by during my time in the chair that promised that they would take me fishing when I got better, but they never did.

Then one day I received a call from Greg, a guy I barely knew. He asked if he could take me fishing. Of course, I said yes. More than a beautiful day of fishing, I had a day on the water to be free of my wheelchair. A day where Greg listened and I was free to be honest about what I was struggling with as a result of my accident. What he did for me in the boat that day is something I still cannot put into words. What I can say is he showed me the power of grace, the power of caring for someone more than yourself.  It didn’t take him much time or effort. It just took the time to care and a fishing trip.

Fifteen years later I still struggle with physical and emotional effects of being injured. Many people have taken the time to meet my family and I where we are at and it has changed our lives for the better. The last couple of years Healing Patriots and On the Water Inc. are two groups that saw where I was at and took the time to reach out. They understand the healing environment that fishing provides. What I learned is these groups are folks like Greg who just took the time to care and help the people they meet that need help.

Everything my family and I have accomplished over the years since I was injured is thanks to people who left my family and I better than they found us. Now we get to leave others better than we find them and see how lives are changed. When we leave every place we visit better then we found it, the world will look better. When we leave every person better than we find them, the world changes for the better.

 

(Geremy Olson grew up in the outdoors. After being burned as a volunteer firefighter, he had to figure out how to teach outdoor skills to his children from a wheelchair while learning to walk. Today he is an inspirational speaker, Fellowship of Christian Athletes North Dakota Coordinator, ND AIM Tournament Director, Outdoorsman, Producer, Wildfire Consultant & Public Speaker (GOspeaks.live) He is also the proud father of the owners of Missouri Secrets Tackle.)

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