MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. - When Mt. Laurel school bus driver Gary Kilmer isn't behind the wheel, he's got a fishing rod in his hands. And every year during spring break he invites young students to the Willowmere community pond where he and his friends teach kids how to fish.
"My passionate love of fishing is just shown here. I love to pass my knowledge and my hobby onto these children," Kelmer said.
So dozens of kids lined the banks of the pond Tuesday to learn about the world of hooks, worms and bobbers.
"It's just so exciting to see that you were going to get a fish or not. It's like you want to get one and when you get one, it's just like you feel happy," student Alexandra Syzmanik said.
"It was hard and I tried to reel it in and I got it and I was like 'whoa, this is so big!'" student David Kane said.
The tutoring does pay off.
Kids were catching and releasing sunnies, bass and crappies and 7-year-old Jake Gluszek reeled in a foot-long largemouth bass.
"Usually I'm out on the Delaware sometimes, Chesapeake. Usually, I am out there catching some bass and it was very easy to catch that fish," Gluszek said.
Part of the beauty of teaching kids to fish is that it means at least for an hour or two, they're away from computers and phones and concentrating on nature, not video screens.
"I think it brings a sense of community. I think it's great to get them outside running and they need it," parent Terri Cormie said.
"I'd rather go outside and do this than play on my iPad," student Adrienne Magram said.
"I love getting people involved in nature," Kelmer said.
Gary Kelmer's been doing this for over 20 years and after putting a fishing rod in the hands of some of these kids, well, they're clearly hooked!
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