Southeast Texas News Group
PORT ARTHUR —
Working with thousands of kids over the years, I have found that I can take something like a football and some will have zero interest.
I can even take video games and a couple will sort of walk away with no zeal for the opportunity. However, when an animal comes into the equation all of the kids light up.
I have had some kids afraid of animals brought into various situations but they remained excited.
My Chris Houghton and I took his daughters Emily and Kaitlyn perch fishing at a beautiful park located in a remote area of the county we live in. I arrived early and scanned a few spots for fish and while organizing tackle could see the girls coming down the trail toward the pond.
Their smiles were wide, eyes bright and the demeanor was peaceful yet extremely excited.
It did not take long to put them on perch and watch their enthusiasm grow along with their confidence. At first, they wanted us to throw out their bait, but soon they demanded to do it themselves.
Remembering my childhood, there were hundreds of days like this.
We relentlessly pursued the garfish, grinnel, catfish, sun perch and occasional bass in the Newton and Irving Street gullies in West Orange.
Liking to the much larger Adams Bayou these canals wound through the community and enthusiastic kids always fished those two key junctions. Now I drive around the same areas and around other fishing locations in the community and see very few kids.
A couple of spots have “No Fishing” signs, while others are simply barren of laughing, yelling, bragging kids bent on something bending their rod. It makes me sad but it is not surprising.
A couple of years ago my wife and I talked about the lack of school age children in our neighborhood. Other than a group of fun-loving skaters who cruise through the area from time to time, we rarely saw any kids.
Then last year the school district started making picks up across the street and I noticed numerous youngsters we had never seen before. They were not playing football or baseball in the field down the street and they certainly were not catching the catfish and bass in the bayou down the road.
They were no doubt in their homes glued to video games, the Internet or television.
There is of course nothing necessarily wrong with any of those things but for a child to only get their stimulation from electronics is to deny them what is natural. That is why it is essential get kids outdoors. I am of course an advocate of bringing the fishing and hunting but at this point would be perfectly happy even seeing them play croquet.
Some believe the current generation of kids is simply not wired for outdoors activities but that is an extreme falsehood. We are all wired for spending time in nature.
As noted earlier, every couch potato kid I have taken outdoors had been blown away by the experience. Simply seeing a bird or squirrel up close or catching a hand-sized bream is often the most exciting thing that has ever happened to them. A couple of years ago, our church held an outdoors campout type event for boys ages 7-12. We were shocked at how many had never roasted weenies or marshmallows or even see a campfire.
Their excitement touched our hearts and reminded all involved how blessed we were to have been brought up in an outdoors lifestyle. It is sad to see kids with such little life experience outside of what they get in school or what they can control with a joystick or mouse.
Make time to take the kids in your life into the great outdoors. Whether they go crabbing, perch jerking or searching for shells on the beach, there are life-enhancing experiences to be had.
A great way to top off an opportunity to encounter wild things is giving them photos of their trip. These will help build powerful memories they will one-day share with their own children.
My destiny was forever changed upon taking my first trips into the great outdoors where I got to see the Lord’s handiwork and the same is true for many of you. Let us make it point to do the same for the new generation who may never get the opportunity unless we make it available.
If we do not, they may hear the yipping of a coyotes in the night, catch a glimpse of a bobcat or see a dolphin jumping in the channel. Never discount the power of giving those kinds of gifts because most of the time they are the best of all.
I have asked this question in the past but it keeps coming back to the forefront.
Would you rather your child find their entertainment from the X-Box or a tackle box?
The answer should be obvious.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at email@example.com. You can hear him on Moore Outdoors Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)