It’s the third day of camp, and 15-year-old Darwin is going fishing for the first time.

Thanks in part to a donation of rods and reels by Bass Pro Shops in Portage, and the hospitality of our local Izaak Walton League chapter, a small group of Dunes Learning Center summer campers are learning the quiet sport of fishing. It’s all about patience, they agree.

Darwin, whose enthusiasm for fishing comes from following the dramatic “River Monster” adventures of biologist and angler, Jeremy Wade, is having an epic first day out. He’s caught a small bluegill and two, decent-sized bass (rock, and large mouth) before lunch.

“He’s using a proprietary blend of meal worm and nightcrawler,” confides trail group leader and Dunes Learning Center naturalist, Anthony Escobedo.

Darwin, grin extending from ear-to-ear, shares his secrets for fishing success:

1. Take your time.

2. Find a good spot.

3. Watch the water.

Robert, a third-year camper and experienced angler adds that fishing teaches us how to enjoy life.

In a busy world, a group of teens sitting quietly on the bank of a river, poles in hand, is a rare sight. Rarer still, is the lack of electronic entertainment. In its place is camaraderie, sportsmanship, and conversation -- interrupted by the occasional rush to reel in a catch. Even those whose biggest accomplishment was setting worm to hook, will leave with a sense of pride and a better understanding of their place in the natural world.

To learn more about summer programs at Dunes Learning Center, visit