It’s true, getting children involved in the outdoors has never been so paramount. In the last ten to fifteen years, the community bicycle gang heading to the after-school fishing hole has been replaced with online gaming.
Children rarely see sunlight and with the increasing popularity of electronics, children are slowly becoming less involved in the outdoors. While a child may interact with a phone at a very early age, it does not replace the parent as the chief educator.
Social experiments and science have proven many negative implications of too much screen time on the child’s brain and body.
I’ve dedicated my love for the outdoors to the children. My goal is to pass on the passion to not only my family, but to every child I meet. I can’t imagine my life without the memories made in the outdoors with my family. I believe the best medicine, over any medical treatment, is a sunrise in God’s country.
After becoming a father in January 2014, my ability and growth as an outdoor educator progressed rapidly. Captivating a child’s attention for hours in the outdoors is a skill you should not expect to become proficient at overnight.
The classified secret is the needed ability of the adult mentor to be able to brainstorm with a strong imagination, just like our child counterparts. Visual imagination is not only important to children, but it’s also healthy for the adults.
Plan your trip to not only catch fish, but to also entertain and spend time with the kids who join you. Do your best to never hear the dreadful words, “I’M BORED!” Keeping a child occupied will demand motivation, energy and strenuous work from the adults.
It won’t be easy, but I found the first few trips to be the most difficult. After about the fourth trip, the kids will learn the ropes and start to entertain themselves. So, what can you do to keep a child interested? Have an imagination, think like a child and make things fun.
Understand fishing all night with a child for a ten-pound walleye is nearly next to impossible. But a child’s smile holding a ten-inch walleye is just as impressive and the gleam of happiness will be difficult for them to contain.
Make every effort possible to make the first few trips astonishing to them, they will be hooked for life! It’s been proven that getting kids off the couch and outside builds confidence, creativity, and reduces their stress.
Never for one minute, let them think that not wearing a life jacket is ok, even if that means every adult in the boat wears one too.
• Let them help you drive the boat
Let’s face it, most days I don’t want to leave either, but if they get to drive to the boat ramp, it makes things a little easier.
• Teach them about keeping bait alive
Worms and minnows are fun to play with, but they both die exposed to the sun. This will teach them respect for the simplest things. Nice cool bedding for the worms and fresh water for the minnows.
• Always have a rod you don’t mind losing or breaking,
…yes it needs bait and a working reel. Sooner or later it will sink to the bottom of your favorite fishing spot. Don’t get mad, they are kids, we all have done it.
• Find a spot to store toys in your boat
• It’s not easy,
…but when you pee off the side of the boat, or in a 5-gallon bucket…expect them to copy you, let them.
• Always have a toy boat that floats
While trolling, it will keep them entertained between reeling in fish. Drag it behind the boat, it’s amazing.
• Expect to lose equipment
Pliers, reels, nets and valuables are replaceable.
• Teach them how to keep and release fish
Don’t forget to teach them how to clean and cook fish. It’s called conservation.
• Fruit snacks…they solve all problems
Kids grow up quick, don’t miss the opportunity to get them off the couch. The circle of life continues and time moves on. In your elderly years, you might depend on the varying kids who you introduced to the outdoors, to take you outside and help heal your heart and soul.
Never miss an opportunity to introduce, inspire and educate a child. Remember, you don’t need thousands of dollars of equipment, you need time, heart and a strong imagination.
I’ve dedicated my love for the outdoors to the children. My goal is to pass on the passion to not only my family, but to every child I meet. I can’t imagine my life without the memories made in the outdoors with my family.