Camp Cavett needs your help.
If you are not familiar with Camp Cavett, it is a wonderful summer camp on Lake Texoma for children who have life threatening and chronic illnesses.
Every year the camp provides two fishing trips for the kids. On Thursday, there will be a striper fishing trip and on Saturday there will be a fishing derby for kids. At least that is what is planned.
The camp desperately needs people who have boats who would be willing to volunteer take some of the kids fishing either or both days. So far, the camp only has 18 to 20 boats lined up and there are 140 kids in the camp.
For some kids, it will be their only chance to go fishing this year. And sadly for some, it might be their last chance.
The following is a story my colleague Bryan Painter did last year on the camp and the importance of the fishing trips. The situation is the same and the need is just as great this year as last.
If you can help either day, please call Gary Scarberry at (405) 570-3304 or email Gene Gilliland at firstname.lastname@example.org
Morgan Thompson would put her head back as the bass boat dashed across Lake Texoma.
The rush of air would curl her thin brownish-blond hair over to one side and the spray of water would cool the child’s skin.
When the driver of the boat located a good spot in a cove and brought the craft to a stop, she’d pop up and wanted to be the first to grab the bait. Others may have thought the feel of a wiggling worm or a flopping minnow to be gross. Not this child. These were just a few of the things she loved about fishing during Camp Cavett.
Morgan was blind.
Diagnosed with a brain tumor at 2½ years old, she lost her vision. This sweet little girl who loved bait and bass, and stripers, died in 2009 at age 10. But “she had a really good life for the short time that we had her,” Morgan’s mother Angela Copley, of Moore, said.
Some of Morgan’s best days came while fishing at Camp Cavett.
On Thursday, fishing guides and boaters from the Lake Texoma area will take children from Camp Cavett out on Striper Day. On Saturday, members of the North Oklahoma City Bassmasters Club will lead their annual fish-for- anything derby for children from the camp. In both cases, but especially Saturday, more boats are needed for about 150 children accompanied by nurses/camp counselors.
Just how important are these two days?
“They’d take us out real early in the morning, and Morgan would be tired so she’d lay back and just feel the wind blowing through her hair,” Copley said of her daughter. “She just loved it.”
Danny Cavett, chaplain at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center, is the man after whom the Cavett Kids Foundation based at OU Medical Center, is named. The foundation’s mission is to provide five camps — including Camp Cavett and Kamp Kidney — and other events and programs for outpatient children from The Children’s Hospital who have life-threatening and chronic illnesses.
“It’s important for the kids because even if they don’t catch a fish, they get two chances, Thursday and Saturday, to see fish being caught,” Cavett said. “They get to see kids having a success that they don’t usually get.”
This is the 14th year Gene Gilliland, of the North Oklahoma City Bassmasters Club, has been involved, helping to recruit boats. It’s been a challenge in all but three of the past 13 years to get enough boats to take all the children out on the lake at once. So what they’ve had to do is split the camp-goers into two groups with one fishing from the bank while the other goes out on the boats. Then at midmorning they switch.
“The problem with that is, especially in the hot summer, a lot of times the really good fishing is early in the morning,” Gilliland said. “That second wave of fishermen sometimes didn’t get to experience much in the way of good fishing.
“It takes about 60 to 75 boats so that all of the kids can be out on the lake fishing at the same time.”
Gilliland recalled a story from a winter afternoon a few years back. He and some other guys were working a booth at the Oklahoma City Tackle Show, recruiting boaters for Camp Cavett, when a mother stopped by.
“She was telling us all about how her son had just loved the experience,” Gilliland said, “She said he talked about it continuously right up until the day that he died.
“That just grabbed us.”
Gary Scarberry, a fishing guide at Catfish Bay Marina at Lake Texoma, helps coordinates boats for Striper Day, and they need about 35 to 40 of the guide boats or boats that can carry a lot of people. Each year volunteers include members of a group called “Six Old Geezers,” mostly retired individuals who live around the lake and fish all the time.
There will be years that he sees a child he’s taken out on the lake before, and then there will be the tough years.
“Sometimes when I ask about them and how they’re doing, I’ll find out they’ve passed,” he said. “We go fishing every day, so we take things for granted, but it’s a trip of a lifetime for those kids.”
It certainly was for Morgan.