Philmont offers a physical, emotional retreat for women with breast cancer

Casting-for-Recovery-Philmont-2It’s not just Scouts and Venturers who benefit from time spent in the New Mexico paradise called Philmont.

You might be surprised to learn, as I was, that Philmont invites select groups of non-Scouts to use its property.

One inspiring example: Casting for Recovery, a nonprofit that provides free fly-fishing retreats for women with breast cancer.

For each of the past six years, Philmont has hosted the New Mexico Casting for Recovery Retreat, inviting women from New Mexico and parts of Texas and Colorado to fly-fish in Philmont’s gorgeous waters.

Casting-for-Recovery-Philmont-3Casting for Recovery offers an inspiring story of powerful women finding a reprieve from the challenges of cancer. It also offers proof that non-Scouting organizations can benefit from our national high-adventure bases and council camps in surprising ways.

All in the family

Dana Stoltz Gray is the director of the New Mexico/Texas Panhandle/Lower Colorado Casting for Recovery program.

She says Philmont has been instrumental in the success of Casting for Recovery in her geographic area.

“Philmont has been actively involved in the success of our retreat, including being active on the Casting for Recovery planning committee,” Gray says.

Casting-for-Recovery-Philmont-4Brian Gray is the BSA’s Outdoor Program Coordinator, and he happens to be Dana Stoltz Gray’s husband. Inherent bias aside, Brian Gray sees in Casting for Recovery an alliance between two worthy causes: Scouting and supporting women with breast cancer.

The retreat, Brian Gray says, uses Philmont’s waters to help these women “learn, relax, get inspired and discover a renewed energy for life with others in the same condition.”

So, the natural question is: Why fly-fishing? Here’s how Casting for Recovery explains its philosophy:

On a physical level, the gentle, rhythmic motion of fly casting can be good therapy for the upper body as a way to encourage increased mobility in the arm for women who have had surgery or radiation as part of their breast cancer treatment.

On an emotional level, women are given the opportunity to experience a new activity in a safe environment amongst a supportive group of peers. The retreats provide resources to help address quality of life issues after a breast cancer diagnosis, and a new outlet – fly fishing – as a reprieve from the everyday stresses and challenges of cancer

Casting-for-Recovery-Philmont-5In their words

Let’s hear from some of the women who have attended Casting for Recovery retreats at Philmont:

  • “I will forever be changed by this weekend. I feel refreshed, empowered and whole again. Thank you for this beautiful gift.”
  • “The weekend far exceeded my expectations. [Casting for Recovery] volunteers were amazing — also the Philmont staff.”
  • “Thanks so much for all the compassion, love and laughter wrapped up in the weekend.”

Learn more about Casting for Recovery here.

About Bryan Wendell 2880 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.