Ken Coate saw a dream come true again last weekend.
Coate, co-leader of the 4-H Outdoor Skills Club, started the Father's Day Fly-In to build bridges among senior men and youths in Juneau. The 10th annual event took place June 16.
"As a youth, my mentors and best friends were my Dad and Grandfather. I don't have them any more, but I want to do what I can to carry on the tradition of mentoring by those who are older and wiser, the seniors who have 'been there,' " he said. "Most of our grandfathers live somewhere other than Juneau and this is my way of not only saying thank you to them, but also giving our youth a chance to get to know these men."
The Father's Day weekend weather was the nicest in Juneau for many years. Instead of hiking up the trail in the rain, the 4-H Outdoor Skills Club members, parents and leaders arrived in camp dry and very warm. It was a daylong procession to Windfall Lake, with each family packing in their gear.
Roger Birk, 4-H co-leader, was first in on Thursday when he packed in a canoe and then again early Friday with his son Tyler and daughter Lindsay. Jim Leet, another 4-H co-leader, and wife Joni, arrived next and secured the cabin for the group. Ken and Linda Coate hiked in with Pat Lumba, and Rico and Mattheus Temple completed this years' representation of the 4-H club.
"This was the easiest hike in we've had in years, thanks to Pat Lumba's uncle," said Ken Coate. Pat and his uncle brought two of the canoes in by jet boat the day before. "Usually the all canoes are portaged in but this year we had a gift."
The whole event comes together through many volunteers.
Ten years ago, Ken started looking for someone who would capture the dream and help him fly older fathers and grandfathers into the lake to fish for the day. The Kiesels at Ward Air liked the idea and have donated the flight every year. Roy's Custom Printing donated T-shirts the first nine years and this year the donation was made by Mike's Custom Printing. The 4-H group pulls it all together.
This years' guests - George Baker, Walt Griffeth and Sigurd Olson - arrived at Ward Air, and climbed into the plane to meet the 4-H members at the lake. This was the second year for Baker and Griffeth and at least the fifth year for Olson.
When asked what he liked best about the day, Olson said, "the ability to come up here with people who enjoy getting away from the city and into the woods and mountains ... a very pleasant and down-to-earth experience." The three men, all veterans of World War II, are longtime residents of Alaska and have given much to the communities they have lived in.
After the plane was unloaded and this years' T-shirts given out and admired, the fishing rods were unpacked and made ready for the day. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Sport Fish Division supplied fly rods and reels for the guests to use and the 4-H members and seniors shared their secret flies.
Canoe teams of a young person and senior headed out to the "best" spots for cutthroat and the parents and leaders waved them on and went to the cabin to prepare lunch.
Stories, adventures and dreams were shared over lunch and when the Ward Air Beaver touched down on the water for the guests' trip home, amid all the "thank yous" was the feeling that the time was just too short.
For more information about 4-H, call Cooperative Extension at 465-8749.
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