Fishing. Fellowshipping. Feasting. by Scott Dempsey

On my recent Reel to Real outing to the western tip of North Carolina, I was treated to some good fishing, some great hospitality, and some significant fellowship. This Trip to Enrich allowed each of us to unplug from our hectic daily lives and plug in to the beautiful Nantahala National Forest and other locales. I was well attended, cared for, and even catered to during my time on this trip.    

As a director in a technical field, my day-to-day life is fraught with what my oldest son refers to as “slow tigers.” As humans, we’re well designed to deal with a stressor like an actual tiger; fight or flight is a typical response. However, that project deadline, that HR meeting, those budget calls are all “slow tigers.” They generate stress and all the accompanying hormones that just pile up without being able to fight or run from the pressure. Getting away for a few days and just focusing on the wilds and the folks you’re with does a great work in assuaging the waters of those piled-up stress hormones. I came back feeling lighter and renewed.    

This event was more than just a getaway. I met some amazing men who are all way more successful, accomplished, generous, kind, encouraging, engaged, and knowledgeable than I (and at least one of them caught more fish than me!). We soon got to a place of familiarity and comfort with one another that allowed us to talk real talk. It’s significant and helpful to know that other men struggle with some of the same stuff I do. Also, it’s valuable to hear about their successes in overcoming some pretty big obstacles.   

Hearing testimonies of other guys from different walks of life serves to remind us that Christ can and will find us anywhere, meet us as we are, and lift us right up to where He needs us to be. One of the most surprising aspects of the trip was the guides themselves. Expert fishers and stalkers, wild like the creatures they seek but also attentive, cheerful, informative, patient (especially with my continuous tangles), and encouraging. Getting to know them enhanced the trip in a way I did not expect, and I am grateful for having learned so much from them. 

In addition to catching more fish than I expected to (thanks entirely to Wes and his scientific approach to flyfishing), I ate better than I could have imagined and had laughs and smiles the whole week. I met someone who actually enjoys lutefisk, learned some new games, heard great jokes and cool stories, flung a grape farther than anyone at the cabin that day (a flyfishing analogy — you had to be there), and got to hear some songs that’ll be on a new album soon. At one point, I ate smoked turkey sandwiches on a sandbar in the middle of the Tuckaseegee River! From that spot, I fished barefoot until my feet went numb; totally worth it, as I kept landing trout! The hospitality provided by Bruce, Dr. Mike, and their very kind wives was better than any five-star hotel. The best part about the whole trip is that I now have new Brothers in Christ that I can be real with when life gets real. 

Scott Dempsey serves on the Trips to Enrich team as camp host and cook. He hopes to experience more fellowship in wild places with others who want that as well. If you ever go camping with him and his bride Elizabeth, they will likely transform your idea of “roughing it.