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Adaptive Anglers focuses on fishing for people with disabilities

WHITE HALL — Creed Leffler embodied the spirit of the room.

The 27-year-old has been at nearly all of the 16 iterations of the Adaptive Anglers fly fishing camp and there’s one thing that keeps bringing him back.

“Friends, family,” he said. “I get to see all my old favorite peeps.”

Thirteen people will spend the weekend at Montfair Resort Farm for the fly fishing camp for those with disabilities this weekend.

Mark Andrews, executive director of Therapeutic Adventures, runs the show these days, but it originally was started as an Eagle Scout project by his oldest son.

This weekend, camp attendees will sleep in the lodge and Montfair and spend Saturday fishing in Moormans River. Anglers will also learn basic aquatic entomology and how to tie their own fly for fishing.

“This is like a rustic sleepover party,” Andrews said.

Therapeutic Adventures, which hosts the program, supports individuals and families through adaptive adventure activities throughout the year. The organization partners with the Thomas Jefferson Chapter of Trout Unlimited for the event.

Trout Unlimited maintains a special regulations section of the Moormans River just below Sugar Hollow Reservoir dam. Fishing in the area requires a special permit through Albemarle Angler in Charlottesville.

The camp isn’t focused on any people with any specific disability or any age group; it simply aims to make people feel comfortable in the outdoors and with each other. Andrews said he recently asked participants if they’d want to split it up for children and adults and they unanimously said they wanted it to stay.

“They enjoy each other,” he said. “It’s a good energy.”

Adaptive Anglers also partners with the University of Virginia; students will help out with the attendees.

“It’s a good opportunity for them to come out and have a hands-on experience before winter,” Andrews said of the students.

Caroline Conlan, a fourth-year student and program director at Madison House, has volunteered at the event for three years. She said it comes with a sense of community.

“We all hang out by the fire during the night and fish during the day,” she said. “I love that fly fishing gets us to sit down together.”

Many of the attendees are frequent visitors, which Andrews said allows guides to pick up with lessons where they left off.

Andrews is a popular figure at the camp and greeted each of the attendees as they arrived on Friday.

“I love Mark Andrews,” said Chris Wharam of Earlysville. “He’s a character.”


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