SCDC, DNR partnership brings fishing rodeo for kids back to SC Children’s Homes
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – A slightly chilly but sunny spring morning on the water provided the perfect setting to catch a few fish on Saturday, as dozens of children grabbed a perch and huddled around a pond near the Kershaw-Sumter county line.
The pond sits on the extensive farm grounds of the Wateree River Correctional Facility near Sumter, and the fishing rodeo held there this weekend has been an annual tradition for nearly a decade .
“We had the inmates come in here and dig the pond and then we had the carpentry inmates come in and build the dock and fill it with water,” Wateree warden Don Beckwith said.
The rodeo has been suspended for the past two years before it returns in 2022, and the event is held as part of a partnership between the South Carolina Department of Corrections and the Department of Natural Resources.
“The prison facility provides the pond, obviously, and the staff to help organize the event. DNR provides the fish, tackle, down to rods, hooks, bait and all the gear as well,” said DNR Lt. Brian Corbett.
Officers and staff teach young anglers how to bait their hooks, cast their rods and, with a bit of luck getting them to a catch, how to safely get the fish off the hook.
The dozens of children who attend each year live in South Carolina children’s homes, with about 60 children from four homes in the state fishing this year.
“We provide a stable home, a place where children can somehow grow up and have opportunities to be children,” said Jerry Allred, executive director of Crosswell Home for Children in Sumter.
Allred said many kids didn’t get a chance to fish before the annual rodeo.
“Seeing them catch a fish for the first time or hearing them scream, touch a worm, those things they just don’t do much,” he said. “And give those kids a chance to interact with men and women in uniform, law enforcement, because sometimes they have a different perspective or a different perception of law enforcement.”
With the pond full of catfish on Saturday, there were plenty of successful casts, cries of surprise and delight as the fish were brought in and pictures taken to capture the spoils.
“It’s worth a million dollars,” Beckwith said.
Copyright 2022 WIS. All rights reserved.
Notice a spelling or grammatical error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the title of the article.