Recently while talking about the “Take A Kid Fishing” weekend during the Fan Outdoors
broadcast emotions almost got the better of me. The topic is of significant importance on both a very personal and professional level. The personal part has to do with my love of the outdoors including the fact that as a parent it was extremely important to share and teach my sons, Erik and Chad about the outdoor world much the same as my own father did. The process is by no means difficult but it does require a purposeful approach in the parenting process. On the professional level it became very clear that for too many kids the outdoor experience of fishing or hunting is not widely shared or taught.
As a young adult, at my dad’s urging and following his lead I became a volunteer MN
Firearm Safety Instructor teaching classes for more than 30 years. These classes were filled with personal stories coupled with conservation, ethics and the importance of firearm safey. Sharing a love of fishing began within a career in public education taking place over a span of 20 years. With the help of colleagues and fishing friends we allowed thousands of young people to experience a day on the water in boats with adult mentors . It was while remembering some of those kids and their stories that my emotions almost got the best of me. Thanks too for Bob St.Pierre bailing me out because finding words at that moment was
Now as I sit in the cabin looking out at the lake during yet another rainy day it’s easy to
reflect back on some of those times. The biggest parent mistake I almost made was while on Lake Minnetonka with a very young Erik. We had driven to the lake, launched and began fishing but my intent was misplaced as we got on a weedline and began a bass search. He soon became bored with the deep water probing announcing he wanted to go home. Raising my voice my reply was “we’re not leaving yet so just sit down!” Quietly he sat down and began to cry. It was like a “hey stupid” hammer that hit me as this duhhhh moment rang home. With an “I’m sorry buddy” we packed up and went home. The note to self read “if
you’re taking a child fishing keep that as the only focus in the day!” That was a parenting lesson I’ve never forgotten and a mistake never made again! Now the tables have turned and it’s me that suggests to them that it might be time to head home.
Today it’s very quiet here but for the pattering of rain on the roof. Both dogs are sound asleep at least for the moment. But as I stand and turn 360 degrees there are so many memories in every direction. Memories filled with family and friends. Fishing, hunting, water skiing, campfires and overnights. That same oil burner is warming the cabin right now in exactly the same way it did so many years ago. The same 12’ Crestliner sits on a
trailer in the green shed too. A boat I learned to fish in and the same boat both boys also first explored Sauk Lake. Learning to drive that little boat and eventually going alone was a big deal-I know because I did it too.
Most of my family from that era are gone now and the cabin has become ours. The memories will live on and here comes the lesson. This grand experience we call the “outdoors” is still here! I’ve spent a lot of years teaching young minds and helping them be better prepared for
their tomorrow but the greatest treasures in my life are family. Both boys have developed a deep love and profound respect for the outdoor experiences. In that I am very proud!
How about you? Don’t miss the opportunity when it comes around. I promise you won’t regret it.