A Volunteer’s Experience as a Companion on a WQW Fishing Experience
Impact, transformation, change—all words that imply action and hopefully positive action. This is what happens on a Warriors & Quiet Waters (WQW) Fishing Expedition or FX. I just completed my third FX as a volunteer companion. As a companion, my role is one of sounding board, listener, observer, and a possible source of answers to any question—but mostly just another guy out fishing. As I have aged, this role has become more rewarding and enjoyable. I witness, first-hand, the transformative effect of friendship. With WQW the friendship is established and accelerated by fishing. Yes, fishing. But much of the time fishing is just a backdrop, a vehicle to allow protective males to open up and reveal. It provides permission to talk and explore feelings. Not directly—we’re talking men here—but indirectly and effectively.
In fact, my favorite time on this FX was after lunch on Day 3, sitting in the boat, not fishing, just chatting while observing the beauty that is Montana—the Crazy Mountains, clear blue water, and equally clear and blue sky. My new friend and recent fishing convert (army veteran) sat back and exclaimed, “This is great. I don’t need anything more than this. This is awesome.” For someone who has, yes voluntarily, sacrificed so much, maybe struggled to re-integrate after their service, all with the same life challenges many young men have—new-borns, moving households, completing education—to be able to have the freedom to sit back and “need” nothing was, well, awesome.
What does that mean? It means it works; WQW works. Through “fishing,” WQW is accomplishing its mission. For a moment, a few hours, maybe even a day, fishing helps heal, slow an accelerated life down, filter out the noise, promote the focus required to take the first steps to acceptance and personal happiness and joy, as well as integration.
How does it happen? Not by magic or chance. WQW has a proven deliberate process that brings our warriors, volunteers, cooks, and guides together for a week. That process quickly reduces barriers to friendship, change, acceptance. From all our meals taken together to the world’s best fishing guides (yes World—Montana has the world’s best fishing, and they are Montana’s best—so by transitivity the World’s Best Guides). Not only do they know the water, insects, and fish, they are masters at conversation, instruction, and how to gain acceptance and trust (quickly). So that by Day 3 we have our “warriors” saying “This is awesome. I don’t need anything else.” WIN.
They leave with a lifelong sport in their arsenal, a resource to contact with questions, and an organization that is now family. WIN
And I have the opportunity to not only be part of the process but gain a new friend. WIN.
This blog post was written by Peter Nalen, Warriors & Quiet Waters Board of Directors member, about his latest experience as a Companion with WQW.