This past weekend my family and I went away to New Hampshire. We live at the beach, but we head to the mountains for a change of pace. For this trip, my daughter and son wanted to bring along a few friends, and so we all piled into the car and headed north.
A few of the kids had never picked pumpkins from a pumpkin patch. So we went. Two of the kids had never picked apples from a tree. And we did that, too. We carved pumpkins at night and we made apple tarts and pies. We were having a great night until my son’s friend shocked the heck out of me. “I never knew that you could just go out, pick some apples, and make a pie. That’s really cool,” he said. “It’s like from farm-to-the-table.”
At the risk of sounding like my dad, I was surprised at how disconnected from nature some kids are these days. There is a rapidly increasing number of kids who don’t have anyone to get them away from the computer or to hold their attention like an incoming text.
Truth be told, I take fishing, boating, and other outdoor activities for granted. It’s what my wife and I like to do. We’ve brought our kids up in an atmosphere of understanding fishing and boating and outdoor adventure. My daughter loves to fish, and my son likes it. My son likes to run the boat but my daughter doesn’t want the responsibility. At the end of the day what matters is that they’re outside and learning how everything connects together. What I observed first hand this weekend is what I already knew, that a lot of those kids don’t have anyone to show them the ropes (pun intended).
Last week, the Take Me Fishing Team and Discovery Education hosted an in-school event at Charles Barrett Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. to educate teachers and students about the importance of on-the-water activities and aquatic conservation, to hopefully spur some of that thinking about how nature connects. Many of what the students, teachers, and Discovery Education presenters discussed can be found at ExploretheBlue.com. It’s truly a fantastic (and free) program that provides a variety of resources for K-5 teachers and parents that they can use to help students learn about the importance of outdoor recreational activities, such as boating and fishing, and the value of clean and healthy waterways.
My hat goes off to all of you who make that extra effort to create a memory and experience for a child by getting them off the couch and outside. What I will do next year is to make sure that I devote more of my time to my kids’ friends who don’t have someone to take them fishing or boating. And if we all do that then we’ll have a group of kids who understand that pumpkins come from a pumpkin patch and that apples come from an orchard. And hopefully, they’ll also understand that by interacting with nature – by getting outdoors and fishing or boating – we are becoming better stewards of our environment.
Tom Keer is a freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com