Growing up as a kid in Virginia, I remember leaving the house early and not coming back until lunch or later. It really wasn’t about what we were going to do – but what we weren’t going to do. And, no I am not talking about getting in trouble or being a knucklehead – I am talking about goofing off in the woods playing capture the flag, looking under rocks for crayfish in the creeks, fishing for blue gills and borrowing my dad’s binoculars to spot red-tailed hawks.
Yes, I played soccer, basketball and football which consumed my free time…but when I wasn’t playing organized sports, I left the house in the morning and this free time outside wasn’t structured or supervised by my Mom or Dad. It was basically me in the outdoors.
Now, as a parent of a 9 1/2 year old daughter and a 7 year old son, I realize that free time outdoors helped shape me to who I am today. Essentially, I needed the outdoors and the outdoors needed me.
Today – children spend an average of over 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen and only 4 minutes a day in free play outside. This disconnection from the outdoors is troubling and robs the next generation of hunters, anglers and wildlife stewards.
Without a bond to the outdoors, today’s kids are less likely to become tomorrow’s conservationists.
This is something that really concerns me. I want my kids to enjoy the same outdoor experiences that I had when I was little. This drives me to do what I can to protect fish and wildlife in my day job, but also connect my children to the outdoors. As a result, I am doing what I can to make sure my kids understand, respect and enjoy the outdoors.
If we don’t connect our kids to the outdoors, who will learn to protect our fish, wildlife and special places?
I think you know the answer. So – get your kids outdoors!