A Time for Thanks
by Captain Charlie Phillips
November is a month that revolves around several big dates, Election Day (which can’t get here and be gone soon enough) Veterans Day and of course Thanksgiving. In the spirit of the last one, I wanted to strike a different tone for this months From the Crow’s Nest piece and give thanks.
I am first and foremost thankful to live in the greatest nation this world has ever known. During my time in the service, I had countless opportunities to travel abroad to different lands, seeing new cultures and meeting new folks. While I did see some beautiful and amazing sights, and encountered some wonderful people along the way, there is no place like home.
Growing up in rural Silk Hope, North Carolina, my folks gave me a 22 rifle, a fishing pole, a four wheeler and the freedom to roam the dirt roads, terrorizing the squirrels and fishing every pond that was in our zip code. I was given the ability to learn life’s lessons in a wonderful community full of hard working Americans who were the definition of the quote, “It takes a village to raise a child.” To me this time was the groundwork of where I learned what hard work, work ethic and community meant. It’s the gold standard for me still today and I am so very thankful for this foundation as I get older and a bit wiser.
I am thankful that I had the opportunity to serve our great nation, to be in the company of heroes, and to learn what selfless service, discipline, and warrior spirit really mean. I am thankful I was able to return home when my time was done, with the freedom to live where I chose, worship how I felt best, and work in the field I wanted. These freedoms are so many times taken for granted as they are so basic to us in this country, but we should never forget there are millions in this world that will never have an inkling of what we have today.
I am thankful for meeting my wife Laura, who helped, encouraged and pushed me to fulfill my dreams of obtaining my USCG Masters license and opening our own charter fishing business down in the Everglades National Park. I started my business off in the crème de la crème of the fishing world, living in Everglades City in the heart of the Everglades, knowing now the passion and mystique that so many others feel when they think of the Everglades and 10,000 islands I realize how sacred a place this is and am thankful to call it home. I am grateful to have a good fishery that still challenges me each day. Great customers who are loyal to our business and feel much more like fishing with a friend than with clients and a community that embraces the importance of guides, fishing and tourism.
I am thankful to the founders of the FGA who over 25 years ago had the vision to see the importance of joining voices and coming together for a greater good. Ensuring the resources we all love and cherish are available long after we are gone. I am thankful for Captain Pat Kelly welcoming me into the Florida Guides Association in 2008 when I first come to work a show booth. He and Mrs. Pat have worked tirelessly the past 20 years to ensure the FGA stayed viable and relevant so that we, the next generation of leaders can steer the ship into the future and continue the legacy of the best professional guide and captains group there has ever been. I am thankful that he, and the other leaders, had the faith and belief to invite me to step into a leadership position when I first was honored to join the board.
I am thankful to all of you that support the mission of the Florida Guides Association. Our captain and guide members each are here for their own reason, but your membership provides the opportunity for the FGA to represent not only our industry, but also our recreational friends, neighbors and customers as well.
I am thankful of your faith in your leadership to represent you, and your patience as we grow the FGA into the future. In the past few years we have come from 80 guide members to over 200, a wonderful achievement that’s totally due to your faith, loyalty and belief in the mission of the FGA. We still have miles to go though, as we all know, that 200 guides is barely scratching the surface of those who carry the title Capt. in the Sunshine State. With your help, I hope one day see that number soar well over the one thousand member mark.
I am thankful for the current leadership and active members of the FGA who selflessly volunteer their time to attend meetings, work shows, help teach kids and take the time to spread the word of who the Florida Guides Association is and what we do. You are the best commercial the FGA could ever have, and the fact that you give your time freely shows that what we are doing here is worthwhile.
I am thankful to have had and have the pleasure of steering this great ship we call the FGA. It’s an honor I do not take lightly and lose sleep wondering if I am doing all I can to serve our members, protect our resources and ensure our ability to enjoy the fisheries we all love continues into the future.
I am thankful for those of you that take the time to read this editorial each month, and even more for those that send feedback, positive or negative as it helps me get the pulse of who you are, and what you find important. Every month as I search for inspiration on what to write, its knowing so many out there see the importance in what the FGA is doing that inspire the idea to write the next sentence. You, are the backbone, the heart and soul of the Florida Guides Association and for that we are all so very thankful.
And finally, I am thankful, and always a little amazed, that we get to take people fishing for a living. We pay our bills, keep the lights on taking strangers in search of a fish each day. If that’s not something you can be thankful for, then I don’t know what to say!!
I wish you all a wonderful month. Remember to thank a veteran on the 11th and save some turkey for me on Thanksgiving. Hope to see you on the water.
Capt. Charlie Phillips