Cast Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization looking to provide kids with the gift of the outdoors. As an organization, it is our desire to bring kids and mentors together outside through the sport of fly fishing.
BY: HOGAN BROWN
Cast Hope started as Ryan Johnston’s Grad school project nearly 10 years ago in the small northern California college town of Chico. He shared his idea with me during our last year of grad school, shortly after its cognitive inception, in a small taco bar on a winter evening after we had both guided all day. Like most things in my life at the time I was asked to do in a taco bar I said yes let’s do this. In no way did I ever think that this idea, which let’s be honest I just assumed was some way to loop fly fishing into a Masters Project, would take off like it has.
Simply put, Cast Hope gets kids outdoors via the sport of fly fishing. Kids are not pulled to the outdoors like generations past. Video games, cell phones, TV, and the ever-present onslaught of social media and popular culture is a much stronger pull than the solitary mountain streams, lakes, trails, and beaches out their back door.
Let's also be very clear, most kids don’t have the financial or parental support to access the outdoors either. The outdoors, while welcoming to all, does have economic, transportation, knowledge, and support hurdles for any kid nowadays. In an age when most parents work well over 40 hours a week to make ends meet, and spend little time outdoors themselves, the future of our outdoor places and the sports we love face a “participation issue”. If no one in the coming generations does not believe the outdoors to be a special place how can we have confidence they will act to protect them.
Ryan Johnston’s simple idea to take down the hurdles of getting outdoors to cure this participation issue was based on the idea, and faith, that Fly Fishing is pretty damn fun, kids just need some help to do it. Cast Hope started as 3 guides donating guide trips ounce a month to organizations that support kids and their mentors from around Chico. It now encompasses 4 regions and two western states, over 500 kids, a couple hundred mentors, 40+ guides, and many volunteers, believers, supporters, and flag wavers. As Cast Hope plans expansion into more regions and states over the next 2 years Ryans’ initial thought and idea is working.
Fly Fishing is the conduit to get kids outdoors. Cast Hope has shown kids the ocean for the first time, shown kids the stars without the pollution of their ever-present city lights, and watched kids go from scared of the water to rowing a drift boat with the confidence of a seasoned guide. More importantly, though Cast Hope has watched the outdoors connect kids from all walks of life. Kids from Juvenile detention facilities and group homes talking hatches and flies with kids from Palo Alto who have been raised by nannies and parents who work 80 hour weeks to maintain.
Cast Hope believes that by Sharing the Outdoors through the sport of fly fishing not only do we take down the barriers to get kids out from in front of screens and into the open spaces of their local lakes, creeks, and rivers we are creating the next generation that will advocate, protect, and utilize these natural places. People protect what they care about, and if the next generation values the latest video game, computer, or cell phone tower more than clean water, healthy fish, and vibrant ecosystems who will protect them. Share the Outdoors we need people to care about it.
Learn more about Cast Hope at https://www.casthope.org/