The Fourth of July in Cape Charles is a picture-perfect, old fashioned Americana experience. Neighbors, fun, festivities and of course red white and blue on every charming street corner. It’s a BIG time, no doubt.
But one of our favorite parts of the Fourth of July is all about the ‘small.’ We can’t think of anything more representative of our beloved, inclusive Cape Charles home than the wildly popular ‘Guppie Challenge’ Kids Fishing Tournament.
This annual rite of summer attracts children from all walks of life to take part in a free fishing competition that benefits the amazing New Roots Youth Garden. (more on that in a bit!)
If you want to go watch the fun or if you have a little ‘Guppie’ in your life who’d like to try their hand at fishing, here’s the low down on one of the high points of summer:
Registration for the Guppie Challenge takes place the day of the event, July 4, 2019, at 11am at the Cape Charles Fishing Pier. The tournament starts at 12:30pm and wraps up at 2pm.
• Participants compete by age group: 7 years and under, 8-12 years old, 13-15 years old.
• Free admission for kids 15 and younger.
• Fishing poles provided for the first 100 children who enter.
• Bait is provided as well as fishing instruction for those who’d like it.
• This is serious fun! Many kids participate year after year in pursuit of becoming the Grand Guppie Champion. The winner in each age group is determined by cumulative inches of fish (or crab) caught. Kids and their adult helpers use scorecards and keep track of their catch on the honor system.
• Yes, we release all the fish and crabs back into the Bay with our gratitude for their ‘participation.’
• The tournament culminates with an awards ceremony for the winner of each age group.
As with all New Roots Youth Garden endeavors, kids who take part (and adults who volunteer to help) are enriched far beyond the day’s experience. We spoke with Claudette Lajoie, President of Solstice Environmental, LLC in Cape Charles, who serves on the Board of Directors for New Roots Youth Garden, about the far-reaching benefits of the Guppie Challenge event.
“The vision and mission of New Roots is to teach children environmental stewardship, healthy eating and lifestyle, personal growth and to be active participants in their communities,” explains Claudette. “For many children, the Guppie Challenge is the first time they have ever fished. And sometimes it’s the first time their parents have fished,” she says. “Every kid catches something!”
The Guppie Challenge is a confidence builder as well as a good old-fashioned nail-biting competition! It’s also an incredible community effort. New Roots Youth Garden partners with the Town of Cape Charles, Claudette’s company, Solstice Environmental, LLC, the Cape Charles Rotary Club, and a host of other local businesses and residents to make the event a success. New Roots board members help head up the effort and are always greeted with willing and capable volunteers. “We provide the kids with healthy snacks during the event and goodie bags with essentials like toothpaste, brushes, and fun things like stickers and pencils, too. We have dock helpers who assist with score keeping, make sure the fishing lines stay untangled and that the crabs the kids bring up don’t pinch any little toes!”
The Cape Charles pier is bursting with activity during the event. “Last year we had 125 kids participating. Each had at least one parent with them, and often, the whole family,” recalls Claudette.
“On the Eastern Shore, we are abundant in land and water resources. At New Roots, we tell the children what we put in the ground, determines what we take out of the water,” says Claudette. This event is certainly a great way to illustrate the bounty of our local waters by using sustainable gardening practices on land.
Bay Creek is grateful to New Roots Youth Garden and all its board members, volunteers and supporters who work to ‘cultivate healthy children’ in our wonderful Cape Charles community.
New Roots Youth Garden Mission:
To provide a safe, magical environment outside the classroom where kids can learn, grown and participate actively in their community health. But it’s more than kids learning that they can provide themselves and their families with healthy food. Teaching a child to invest in a seed, care for it until it sprouts, learning how to listen to what it needs without relying on a single sense of hearing…and then to harvest fruit or vegetables that they saw go from a tiny seed to a delicious tomato is an exceptionally powerful metaphor. And the fact that it simply wouldn’t be possible without a wonderful network of different folks from different strokes; each person brings a unique flavor and knowledge to the Garden, making it the an incredibly accepting place for young and old. The Garden doesn’t just teach kids how to get fit, eat better, grow plants…it teaches children that their community is sacred and we all have a place in the great garden of Life.