Berkshires to Beaches Expedition - Update 4

Dear families,

I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that you finally get to see your kid’s happy faces today. The bad news is that our trip has come to a close.

Ending the portion of our trip in the Cape was bittersweet for many, including the guides. The pine tree-lined campsite overlooking a pristine kettle pond was such a treat to have in our backyard. Great striper fishing, ice cream trips, and pink sunsets in sea misty air wasn’t too bad either. But the group was pumped, as our upcoming portion on the North Shore of Massachusetts had the kids all fired up as well.

The morning of the 28th started like many others with a nice wakeup swim in our nearby pond. Once camp was all packed, up we hit the road to drive across the state once again before the end of our trip. Travel days are always long and logistically heavy, but the kids' patience and upbeat energy made for an effortless journey. With fresh clothes from the laundry mat and full stomachs from a lunch break and gas station trip, the boys hit a nearby grass field for an evening schedule of organized games. We started out first with capture the flag as the kids buzzed around trying to steal the other's flag to secure a point. Travel days build up lots of energy for all of us, so running them around was a blessing for everyone's sake.

As the sun started to head off to bed we switched to a game of full field soccer to switch up the teams and sport so everyone was happy. Once it got too dark, we made our way back to our campsite that we set up earlier at Winter Island Park in the famous Salem Massachusetts. A hefty dinner of brats to fuel the hungry team was soon followed by snores as the kids passed out after a long, engaging day.

With only 14 days, our guides try to pack in as much useful material as possible to leave each kid feeling more knowledgeable and confident. One of those components is the importance of environmental awareness and growing young conservationists to improve the society and communities that we belong to. This core value of conservation for Lillard Fly Fishing was the focus for our service project day. The kids learned that real action happens on a daily basis taking small micro actions like saying no to plastic bags and supporting environmentally integral businesses. We held a talk on this importance and then took the team to jump straight into action.

We visited three different towns on the North shore in Ipswich, Gloucester, and Manchester and used the day to clean up the beaches that were apart of the fishery we were going to be fishing later in the trip. Being able to give back to the places that give us so much is such an integral part of fly fishing and the LFFE community. It was really cool seeing the kids run from piece of trash to the next, eager to fill up the numerous 50 gallon trash bags that we brought to the different beaches. We managed to fill three different bags over the course of the day at three beaches. As a reward we got to end our afternoon at the beautiful white sand Crane Beach where some people caught their first stripers from the surf while others teamed up to build a mega castle in the sand. One thing has been pretty consistent throughout this trip: no matter what we have been doing, there is never a shortage of a good time. We capped off the day with some cheeseburgers around camp to wrap up a full day for the kids. We got the kids to bed earlier this night to ensure they were well rested for the epic striper fishing that followed on the guided charter trip the next day.

A 4am wakeup alarms filled the air at our site, as our guides were happy to see more excited energy then groggy faces. The kids had been looking forward to this charter since the start of the trip. We walked the boys down to the docks of the campground to meet their guides for the day. Smiling faces greeted us as they returned, revealing the success of their trip. Everyone caught at least one very nice striper, with many fish caught over the 40 inch mark (which is simply awesome). This trip has been special and the rockstar fishing has been a huge help to that. Once fish stories were shared (and exaggerated), we ate lunch back at the campsite and took some time for a siesta to reset for the rest of the day.

We took the earlier part of the afternoon to organize the kids' gear for the upcoming travel day while also cleaning out our trips van and travel gear. Responsibility and care for property and those around you has been a large emphasis of the trip and the boys really showed up for this part of the day. Once our chores were done, we got to cap off the trip with our final banquet dinner. We chose none other than the world famous Woodman’s Restaurant to chow on the area's fresh, local seafood. This family style meal is always a hit with the campers and this time was no exception. 

Back at camp, with happy faces and full bellies, our team met by the lighthouse on the water to debrief and reflect on the past two weeks we were all fortunate enough to be a part of. We started with our grounding meditation to set the tone for the evening. From there the kids shared their gratitude for the trip and other group members. This moment was an awesome one for the trip. The guides said our finals words of appreciation to the gift that as this group of boys. I was so happy to have the opportunity to get the chance to teach, guide, and mentor this group of young men. It's exiting to see what they will do in the future. 

The final day of the trip was met with an early wake up and quick breakfast as we packed up camp rapidly for our last travel day. We gave each kid a framed sunset group photo that included a personalized note on the back for the car ride. Seeing the hugs and exchanging of numbers was something we love, reminding us of how impactful these summer trips are for these guys. As the boys think back on their trip, I encourage them to see how they can incorporate the trip's teachings  into their everyday lives back home. 

We hope to see all of these guys on an upcoming Lillard trip in the future! I know most of them already have the trip they want to go on next in mind, but if they have any questions, they can feel free to reach out to anyone of us.  Simply put, it has been a pleasure - your kids were a joy to have on this trip!


Until next time,

Your guide crew: Leo, Max, and Jack

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions was started in 2010 as a graduate thesis for my Master's Degree in Environmental Conservation Education at NYU. The operating premise was simple - by coupling amazing wilderness fly fishing camps for teens with environmental education and service learning we can help inspire future generations of fly fishing conservationists. We have been growing our unique list of trips and experiences ever since.

When it comes to choosing a summer program for your teen the options are endless. For the teen who loves to fish, be outside, and has a strong sense of adventure we have made the choice easy. We are the leader in teen fly fishing adventures and are dedicated to providing the best backcountry fly fishing experience with opportunities for teens to engage in leadership training, community service, and backcountry camping.


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Will Lillard, Founder/Director/Guide

Contact Us

[email protected]

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions
2540 King Road
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

(828) 577-8204