FAQ’s

Who is eligible for a dream?

Any child, 18 years old or younger (minimum age for fishing is 6 years and minimum age for hunting is 8 years,) who is a U.S. or Canadian citizen, has a qualifying physician-certified life-threatening illness, and has not had another hunting or fishing grant, is eligible for consideration. See the Who is Eligible page for more information on eligibility for specific types of dreams.

Who can refer a child for a dream?

Candidate children and families must submit an online or written application (in PDF format), signed by a parent or legal guardian. Medical or social work professionals may also make a referral. To refer a child for a dream, contact Catch-A-Dream and provide us the name and contact information on the child. We will then contact the child’s parents.

How can I refer a child if I don’t fit one of the above categories?

To refer a child for a dream, contact Catch-A-Dream and provide us the name and contact information on the child. We will then contact the child’s parents. Or, you may encourage the family to apply directly. Click here to print our child application form in PDF format or fill out the online application.

How is it determined that a child qualifies for a dream?

The child’s attending physician makes the determination of whether a child has a qualifying life-threatening illness. We define life-threatening as “Any progressive, degenerative or malignant disease or condition, resulting in a significant threat, likelihood or certainty that the child’s life expectancy will not extend past his/her 19th birthday unless the course of the disease is interrupted or otherwise abated.”

Are there any restrictions on a dream?

Our policy restricts dreams to “hunting and fishing experiences” rather than “outdoor things.” The physician also plays a major role in determining whether a child’s condition will allow for particular dreams to be coordinated.  Due to a complex of logistical and scheduling challenges, we do not honor requests to hunt or fish with a “celebrity” nor requests for hunting or fishing anywhere outside the US or Canada.

Are there any “minimum ages” on dreams?

Yes, we do have certain limitations, based upon a combination of laws and common sense. The most important factor is that we must match the child’s physical and emotional maturity with the experience. In general, children must be at least 6 years old to fish, and 8 years old to hunt.

  • Children must be at least 12 years old to hunt “big game” such as elk, moose, caribou, bear, etc. since in many states and provinces there are minimum ages for hunting. We can hunt white-tailed deer, turkeys, waterfowl, upland small game, upland birds and certain other game animals at any age.
  • The minimum age for deep-sea or off-shore fishing is 10 years old. These trips, although glamorous in appearance to those who are not familiar with them, can be grueling. In most cases, once on the boat and off-shore, there is no “taking a break,” or returning to shore. Motion sickness (sea-sickness) is inevitable in one or more members of the family, and the physical toll taken on participants is high. This is one of those experiences that can look appealing to younger children (or even adults) but often turns out to be a negative and even frightening experience for the uninitiated.

Are these Dream Grants done in groups or individually?

We do not conduct “group events” or “camps.” Catch-A-Dream experiences focus on a single child and their family, one family at a time. The nature of our approach is highly detailed and complex, and such a degree of interpersonal interaction would not be possible in the traditional group event or camp setting.

What kind of costs does a family of a dream child have to pay?

Families incur NO expense. All dream expenses are fully covered by Catch-A-Dream, including travel, meals, lodging, licenses, fees, taxidermy, etc. Our objective is to create a memorable dream experience for both the child and family that is not clouded by financial considerations.

What are your sources of funding?

Catch-A-Dream finances its work through individual contributions, corporate donations, and planned gifts. A significant portion of the cost of each dream comes from in-kind donations from many partner outfitters, organizations, companies, and outdoor enthusiasts who become a part of each child’s dream experience.

Is my contribution tax deductible?

The Catch-A-Dream Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Our financial statements are audited annually.

What is the significance of the “leaping trout” in the logo?

The leaping trout is a rendering of a limited edition bronze sculpture by Bruce Brady. The sculpture, entitled “The Royal Coachman,” depicts one of Bruce’s favorite outdoor adventures and captures the essence of a dream caught and experienced.

Does Catch-A-Dream have chapters or local affiliates?

No. We designed Catch-A-Dream to remain highly centralized, and as such we manage all Catch-A-Dream activities nationwide from our single office located at Mississippi State University.  We feel that our mission and vision are very important, and we have structured the Foundation to maximize our capacity to remain true to the original mission and objectives.

We have observed many other non-profits and conservation organizations in their development and see all too frequently the failure of chapters and affiliates at the local levels when the core mission is either altered, forgotten or in some cases, just plain ignored in deference to local or personal agendas.  For that reason, we are dedicated to ensuring the integrity of our mission and of the implementation of the programs to accomplish the core mission by retaining absolute control over funds and every aspect of the dream granting process.  This is the only way we can conceive of maintaining absolute stewardship of the resources with which our supporters and donors entrust us.

Must I be an Outfitter or Charter Service for a child to hunt or fish on my property?

Generally, yes.  Almost all of our trips are hosted by professional outfitters and lodges, since they are usually well set to provide all the support needed to make a successful experience, but we do, on relatively rare occasions, have experiences on private property owned or managed by individuals when the opportunities and securities they can offer match the child’s desire and needs and also meet our needs for risk management and liability concerns.

One aspect of using private lands is the issue of liability. In most cases, this one issue is enough to preclude use of private lands that are not insured and accustomed to provision of services of this nature. The concept of “risk management” is an increasingly important and overriding concern in today’s society, and none of us are totally immune to these “risks,” whether real or perceived.  Additionally, most private land owners do not have the facilities for lodging, meals and other support that are needed to provide the complete package that we seek to provide on these trips. Our effort is to make these experiences far more than a simple hunting or fishing trip; the catch or the kill are only a part of the overall equation that we seek to accomplish on these trips.

There is an e-mail circulating that the President banned a US Serviceman from speaking at a Catch-A-Dream banquet. Is this true?

This has certainly taken on urban legend status since the e-mail originated with one of our volunteers in May 2009 (not Vice Admiral Scarborough as one version that is circulating indicates; we do not know V Adm. Scarborough, who has been errantly attributed as the originator of the email.) For details, see the attached public statements we issued in May 2009 shortly after the referenced event. There are also many websites that accurately report on the issue: See example reports at factcheck.org and snopes.com.

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