Over the last twenty-some years kids outdoors playtime has declined by 25%, unstructured outdoor activities have declined by 50 percent, and family dinners have decreased by 33%. How can you gain back some of that lost time while increasing your childs interest in the outdoors?
Call me an old (young?) sap, but as a father of three, I love spending time with my family. I try to get my kids outdoors as often as possible. Sure I love a solo evening of fishing, but the heart and soul are fed with memories made while with our loved ones, and for millions, fishing is a direct line to the heart of relationships.
The phrase “quality time” is thrown around a lot nowadays, but it is too easy to get caught up in the rush… believe me I know. Last fall, I spent almost sixty days straight guiding mule deer and sheep hunters. Sixty days in Idaho’s wilderness with no contact with my family. Nothing, zip, nada. The only way in or out was on an expensive back-country flight or a two day ride on horseback. It was rough. The reason I bring this up is because I know a lot of you are in the same boat. A reasonable amount of time spent outdoors can connect us one-on-one and create a lifetime of memories. In the good-ole days, I wasn’t reasonable. If I wasn’t outside hunting or fishing, I just wasn’t having fun. I’m glad that I’ve loosened up a bit because too much of a good thing isn’t always such a good thing. Many kids get hunting and/or fishing “shoved down their throats” by their over-zealous dads and are turned off on the outdoors forever. You need to keep it fun and laid-back. Action-packed is never a bad thing, but that’s a hard thing to control. You CAN control fun and laid back.
I have tons of memories fishing and camping with my family growing up. I’m told that on one camping trip I spent all day “fishing” happily with my hook unknowingly (to me) snagged in a tree above my head. It would have been easy for my dad to insist that I “do it right”, but he didn’t and I had a great time. When he hooked a fish, he handed his rod to me so I could bring it in. When I got bored, I was encouraged to throw rocks, catch minnows, chase chipmunks, whatever I wanted to do. My folks just let me be a kid and have a good time.
My two oldest boys landed fish at age two or three and my little girl won’t be far behind. My goal is to fill the net with memories, maybe a few fish and when I look back, hopefully I won’t get that sinking feeling that I missed the big one. I’ll have landed a lifetime of memories courtesy of the outdoors.
A recent survey found that 87 percent of Americans believe fishing has a positive effect on family relationships. The other 13%?… We’d rather not fish with them.
You may also enjoy this podcast on Hunting with Kids by Marc Warnke and Russ Meyer.