Last weekend, I had the pleasure to be a River Helper at the 2022 Casting for Recovery Oregon South Retreat. Casting for Recovery (CfR) is a retreat designed to help women in various stages of breast cancer enrich their lives through fly fishing. It was the first retreat after a 2-year break due to wildfires and Covid.

2022 CFR Rods |

Casting for Recovery’s mission is:

“…to enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer through a unique retreat program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. The program offers opportunities for women to find inspiration, discover renewed energy for life and experience healing connections with other women and nature. CfR serves women of all ages, in all stages of breast cancer treatment and recovery, at no cost to participants.”

Casting for Recovery website

CfR retreats hope women find:

  • inspiration from other participants
  • renewed energy for life
  • experience healing connections with other women and nature

Fourteen women learned to tie knots, cast, and identify bugs on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is when they get to put their new-found skills to work and fish.

That’s where I come in. River Helpers show up on Sunday and are paired with one of the participants and fish for a couple of hours.

My goal as a River Helper is to share my passion of fly fishing and pass along a few tips to shorten their learning curve. And hopefully, catch a couple fish!

The CfR Oregon South retreat is held at the Big K Ranch in Elkton, OR.

The Ranch is an idyllic setting on a working cattle ranch.

Big K Ranch Setting |

Cattle Behind Sign |

Roll down your window on the way to the lodge and the aroma alone will let you know it’s a working cattle ranch!

Happy Calf and Mom at Big K |

Not only will you find cattle in the fields, but turkeys are also plentiful.

Big K Turkey |

The main lodge sits overlooking the pond where the women fished.

Big K Lodge with Pond in Foreground |

Low clouds and fog covered the valley in the early morning, but the sun burned it off about the time we began to fish.

Big K Pond |

After a wonderful breakfast where the River Helpers were able to meet our fly fisher, the wader party began. It was a new experience for these women!

2022 CFR Tying Boot on Post |
2022 CFR Synchronized Boot Tying |

Here are a few participants with their River Helpers.

The next step is to put all those new-found skills to work and attempt to fool a few panfish and small mouth bass.

The women lined up all around the pond’s shore.

2022 CFR Women Around Pond |

Here is the first fish of the day!

2022 CFR First Fish |

Can you hear the whoops and hollers of the other participants and River Helpers?

I love fishing around ponds with these ladies. Whenever someone hooks up, they all cheer with delight. Oh, the sounds of joy!

2022 CFR Kim R with Fish |
2022 CFR Fish |

I hope these 14 participants had a memorable experience – Vicki, Kim, Jolene, Christine, Tamara, Alison, Wendy, Debi, Kim, Barbara, Laura, Jolene, Tami, and Karen.

2022 CFR Participants, River Helpers, and Staff |

I am in awe of their courage and happy to share my love of fly fishing with them. I hope in some small way I was able to help in their healing process. I hope they find ZEN in their own life journey.

Here is one of the participants who found a moment of pure joy at the end of the retreat.

2022 CFR Participant - Jolene T |

The event wouldn’t happen without the River Helpers who show up on Sunday to help the women put their new skills to the test. Thanks to Joel, Jennifer, Kirsten, Rick, Glenda, Doug, Kim, Kate, Rebecca, Lisa, David, and Austen.

And the volunteer CFR Staff – Abby, Bonnie, Karen, Kathy, and Kim,

Here are a few other images from Sunday.

I was proud to support my wife who was the Retreat Leader.

“We gathered an awesome group of women to experience nature, healing, fly fishing and the beauty of the Big K Ranch. Being back together was very powerful sharing stories of adventures and challenges. We wiped up spills and we wiped away tears. We took novices from gearing up in waders, tying knots, and casting to open water and fish on! There is always time for–—-one more cast.”

                                –Karen Kreft, Retreat Leader

I celebrate her journey as a breast cancer survivor and continue to help wherever I can. She still proudly wears her pin.

CFR Pin |

If you or someone you know might be interested in attending one of these retreats, please go to the Casting for Recovery WEBSITE.

Lastly, here are other posts about CfR you’ll find on RiverKeeper Flies.

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