They were spread out along a good portion of the pond's edge, casting rods with flick of the wrist, watching to see if their red and white bobbers went underwater, and occasionally reeling in a tiny sunfish or a couple of weeds.The scene was a snippet of the Coatesville Police Athletic League's June 25 fishing trip to Hibernia County Park during which a handful of Coatesville police officers and staff fished with roughly 22 Coatesville children.
Pedra Jennings, 13, said it was her first time fishing. Within an hour she had reeled in a sunfish.
"It's fun because you get to catch fish," Jennings said.
Stephon Haines, 9, goes fishing with his dad sometimes. At the pond, he sounded confident as he explained how to cast.
"You got to watch out for other people, pull the button on your fishing pole and let it go," Haines said.
Of course, like many of the children, she went to a grown-up for help to remove the fish from the hook.
PAL sponsors several youth programs, including the annual Shop with a Cop event, which gives disadvantaged children a chance to shop for Christmas gifts at a local department.
Coatesville Detective Gerald Pawling said PAL events give kids a chance to interact with police officers while their off duty and out of their uniforms.
"They see us driving around in police cars all of the time. This gives them a chance to see us doing other things like coaching football, Little League, fishing and 'Shop with a Cop,'" Pawling said.
For the fishing trip, PAL provided fishing rods, bait, lunch and snacks. The kids also received T-shits and fishing hats.
Before their first cast, Mandy Smith with the Fish and Boat Commission, taught the children how to cast their rods and release fish. Smith also discussed safety and the importance of clean water with the children.
"They are doing fantastic," Smith said of the children as she helped a boy with his fishing rod. "The fish are very active today."
Lt. Julius Canale said fishing can teach the children several important qualities and at the same time introduce them to a brand new hobby.
"It teaches them patience and confidence," Canale said. "And when you do it in a group setting like this it's really neat And who knows, they may learn they like it."
Also along on the fishing trip were Cpl. Larry Cooper, officer Ryan Wright, and police records Supervisor Kelly McDonald.