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Waikato fly-fishing retreat for men with cancer

Reel Recovery NZ

Reel Recovery is a Waikato-based fly-fishing retreat for men experiencing cancer. There is no cost for participants. It is all done by voluntary helpers – accommodation, catering, fishing buddies/guides, and those who lead conversation groups.

Reel Recovery is based on a programme of the same name in the USA which has been running since 2003, and the New Zealand version is organised by Waikato husband and wife team Craig and Wendy Caldwell.

Craig first heard of the programme in 2013 and held the first New Zealand retreat in 2014, based at Castlerock Adventure Lodge at Wharepapa, just out of Te Awamutu, and using the local Puniu River for fishing. CEO of Reel Recovery USA Stan Golub came out to run that first retreat.

The fly-fishing buddy team since then has included Waikato DHB’s chief medical advisor Tom Watson, who is a longstanding fly-fishing enthusiast, and Mark Tomsett who is from Cambridge although recently moved to Waihi Beach.

Mark has been a fishing buddy on two retreats now, and describes a Reel Recovery retreat as “very often a life-changing weekend” for the men who come along, many of whom have never fished before.

“There’s no psychological, religious or medicinal stuff. It is simply men talking to men – and maybe learning to fly-fish!”

The participants come from all over the country, many to date from the greater Waikato. It is often the first time they have had an opportunity to share their experiences of cancer.

As Craig puts it “We just give Kiwi guys the opportunity to talk.”

The next Reel Recovery retreat will be held in early 2016.

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