The following was first published in CBF's Save the Bay Magazine Spring 2019 edition.
Retired Navy Senior Chief and Chef Adam Gagne relishes the chance to share his passion for kayak fishing with veterans and first responders. Adam is the Volunteer Chapter Coordinator of Heroes on the Water (HOW) of Central Pennsylvania.
HOW brings all branches of the military together for fishing and time away from everyday stresses. It's a serving of camaraderie they don't get sitting on the couch at home.
HOW provides kayaks, fishing equipment, and snacks for outings at no charge.
"We have folks who show up and have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and want to talk," Adam says. "It's a very relaxing experience, I hope. It's the therapy and serenity of it."
We first met this gentle and generous bear of a man when HOW spearheaded CBF's inaugural Veterans on the Susquehanna event in York County four years ago.
"Adam represents the balance and sound judgement of the modern sportsman," says Lane Whigham, CBF's Outreach and Advocacy Manager, who worked with Gagne on the first veterans' event. "He recognizes the restorative and recreational value of clean water for all of us."
Adam is also connected to CBF and clean water as a civil engineering technician with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, working on and designing restoration projects.
Most of his kayak fishing is on the Susquehanna River, so Adam has a front-row seat to the ebb and flow of water conditions. "The water quality is definitely going to reflect on the fish that we catch," he says. "It's all connected."
When the man who can catch a fish as well as he can cook it connects with other heroes on the water, the best rewards can be the simplest ones.
"That's all I look for, is a smile," Adam says. "As long as they had a good time, that is fulfillment enough."