Monday, July 11, 2011

And now, something for MEN: Reel Recovery

It's amazing how quickly my hackles go up whenever I hear about anything outdoors-oriented that's just for men. I immediately wonder: Haven't we gotten past that?

It took about 90 seconds Saturday morning for me to go from that thought to remorse to tears as I watched a video about Reel Recovery during lunch at the Outdoor Writers Association of America conference at the Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort in Utah.

Reel Recovery is a program for men in treatment for, or recovery from, cancer. It offers retreats for small groups of men, combining fly fishing lessons and what the organization calls "courageous conversations" about cancer and life.

Why do men need something like this? It's pretty simple: Our culture demands of men a huge amount of stoicism in the face of adversity. It takes a really safe environment to relieve men of their sense of duty to suck it up.

I felt terrible about my first reaction. Reel Recovery isn't an archaic no-women-allowed club; it meets a real need. As do all the women-only shooting and hunting events I support. Damn, I hate it when I'm a hypocrite.

But I stand corrected on this one, and I'd like to encourage readers to help spread the word about this program. Know anyone who'd be a great candidate for one of these retreats? Click here for a list of upcoming events. Wanna volunteer? Click here. Can't volunteer, but you'd like to contribute? Click here to make a donation.

I've reached that age where I've known plenty of people - men and women - who've fought cancer, and anything that helps those folks is all right in my book.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011


Blessed said...

This is a program I can understand the need for! My Dad had cancer - and the "buck up and deal with it" part was hard. He would never participate in a fishing workshop - just not his cup of tea... but I wish he had been able to find a safe place to just deal with his own personal concerns about the cancer rather than having to keep on being strong for all of us women in his life :)

Daddy is going on 20 years of mostly cancer free - we had a small scare that was easily taken care of about 8 years ago, but aside from that he's healthy and I'm thankful!

A Reel Lady said...

Wonderful group it looks like! Men do still need "man time" especially after battling something like cancer.

Gretchen Steele said...

Just a few days ago I spent a good bit of time lakeside with someone so very dear to me who is at the end stages of pancreatic cancer. We fished, we talked, we explored the issues of life, death, the whole circle of things that come with a life threatening illness. How much more beneficial it could have been for him if he were with a group of men in a program such as this. We vowed to fish weekly as his condition and mine allow, but I know in my heart I am poor second to sharing with other men - after all I'm just his crazy auntie

NorCal Cazadora said...

Blessed: I'm so glad your dad has fought it successfully! And I know what you mean - my dad probably would've resisted this kind of retreat too, but I think if we could've cajoled him into it, he would've really liked it.

Reel: Agreed! I think there are lots of occasions where man time is a great thing. I just don't like it when it's used to completely exclude women from things they really want to do.

Gretchen, my heart goes out to you and your nephew. But I doubt that you're a poor second - people need all kinds of support, and I love the fact that you've vowed to keep fishing with him as long as he can. Please take care of yourself too - it's not easy watching someone you love fight cancer.

Josh said...

I, too, feel the same way about mens' "support" groups, Holly.

This sounds like a great group, and very helpful for some folks. I wish them the best.

The Greenneck said...

Yeah there really was no taking that presentation any other way! Good organization.

The QB Doctor said...

standing applause for that post Holly - how we all stuggle under the weight of attributions, both those we make to ourselves and those others make to us...


Matt Mullenix said...

What a neat group! Agreed, it serves a real need.

But did you really object to men-only outdoor activities, or to an assumption they imply women can't or shouldn't do the same activities?

I can see taking offense at the latter, but I don't think the implication can be assumed always.

Men need some time in their own company, and not just so we can embrace our hidden vulnerabilities without the women watching. :-)

For me, just being with folks who also can't multi-task is a relief.

I live with my wife and two daughters, all of them wonderfully competent and extremely busy people. It is exhausting!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Matt, I live in a hunting world where there are still some "no women allowed" clubs, and I definitely bristle at such institutionalized gender restrictions. Do I care if men hunt alone together? Not at all. I hunt alone, I hunt with men, I hunt with women and I hunt with men and women. Each of those experiences has value.

And like I said, it took me 90 seconds to see where this one was going and correct my assessment of it. But for what it's worth, I wasn't the only one at my table whose eyebrows shot up when the presentation began.

SimplyOutdoors said...

This sounds like a great program. I think men really need something like this when you're going through something as adverse as cancer - a place to hang out, have some fun, and not have to worry about being tough all the time.

Jessica said...

Okay, first of all, yes, that looks like a wonderful program. Kind of makes me feel a little misty-eyed.

Also: your initial reaction reminds me of an episode of Parks and Recreation in which Amy Poehler's character, an avid hunter, wants to tag along with a guys' hunting trip and ends up having to take the rap for an accidental shooting. Here's a clip. It funny.

Brett said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience at the OWAA conference with your readers. I'm sure you are aware that women are also served in this capacity through Casting for Recovery. In fact, they have been around a lot longer than Reel Recovery. As a member of the Reel Recovery Board of Directors I thank you for helping us spread the word. As a member of the OWAA board of directors I thank you for making the trip to Snowbird and sharing tales from your time there.

Matt Mullenix said...

Holly I wasn't aware of the hunt club rules (I subscribe mostly to the Groucho Marx philosophy in my hunting associations). Exclusion of women by club rule seems excessive, and annoying if club resources are the prime local spots. Sorry to hear you run into that.

NorCal Cazadora said...

OK, one of them may be a self-inflicted wound: I'm told women were banned at one club after I wrote this blog post about hunting there. It's not a very formal club, but it is inhabited by Important People.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Belatedly (catching up!):

Brett: You're welcome! And I actually wasn't aware of Casting for Recovery - I focus much more on hunting than fishing. But thanks for mentioning it!

Jessica: That clip is HILARIOUS!