River Currents

by Free Speech on July 21, 2009

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI
7/21/09
by Gary Engberg
©2009 Gary Engberg Outdoors

These days, outdoor activities, outdoor organizations, and the “outdoors” in general are competing for the youth and young of today to join and become active participants in the many different and diverse groups that have one thing in common. That one thing is a love and appreciation of the beauty and splendor that being outside and participating in any of the many outdoor activities bring to those who have learned to appreciate the many joys that nature gives us for enjoyment.

The term and concept of the outdoors encompasses many different and diverse groups and also the solitude, wonderment, and peace that it can bring to an individual in activities as simple as hiking, camping, nature viewing, outdoor photography, kayaking, and canoeing. The outdoors is a general concept that includes so many different activities besides the fishing and hunting that most people think of when you mention the outdoors. I know many people who I consider “outdoors people” that have never fished or hunted. But, they rarely spend an off day indoors no matter what the season is and if they are alone or with others. The “outdoors” is really a life-style or mode of thinking that affects your leisure time and much of what you do in your spare time.
The problem that our society is encountering these days is a huge loss of “babyboomers” who are no longer participating in outdoor activities for physical reasons, loss of outdoor minded friends, loss of public and private land for their activities, and the sedimentary life that comes with getting older just to name a few reasons for the loss of people in the outdoors. Today’s young must have parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and friends to mentor them and take the initiative to get them involved in the outdoors. Most every outdoor group that I know of realizes this problem and are promoting ways to get today’s youth involved in outdoor activities.
National groups like; Pheasants Forever, Trout Unlimited (TU) Ducks Unlimited (DU), Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Professional Anglers Association, Anglers Insight Marketing (AIM), Isaac Walton Conservation League, and the National Wild Turkey Federation all have programs geared to getting children involved and enjoying the outdoors. Plus, there are numerous local groups and organizations doing the same thing on a local level while trying to get kids outside and involved in the wonders, beauty, and satisfaction of being outside in nature. The Yahara Fishing Club, the Dane County Conservation League, and even Malcom Shabazz High School’s Project Green Team are local examples of groups trying to get youth involved in outdoor activities. Some of these groups are fishing and hunting organizations, but their activities are not always about those activities. Some of the other activities include; tree planting, stream restoration, bird house and wood duck building, nature photography, flood relief help, and helping the disabled or physically challenged get outside.
The challenge that groups face is the competition from computers, the Internet, and the many social networks like Twitter and Facebook. There is nothing wrong with these skills and activities because one has to be computer literate in today’s society. But, they cannot take over one’s life and be their sole activity. One must get out of the house and away from the computer to enjoy the natural resources that we have been blessed with in this state and country. I have seen “city kids” who never had been involved in anything outdoors find their niche or place in our society after having someone take the time and patience to show them the beauty and wonders that so many of us take for granted. The constant number of single parents also has contributed to children not knowing what they are missing by not getting outside. One does not have to live in a rural setting to enjoy such things as outdoor photography, bird watching, gardening, and even fishing where a city like Madison has tremendous urban fishing. Single parents should contact local organizations for help in getting their children involved in these worthwhile and life-long activities or contact me and I’ll help find a group that can help you and your children. The Wisconsin DNR also has numerous programs for today’s youth that should be checked out and deserves one’s attention. Ideally, you should want to have a blend of indoor and outdoor activities for your young to take part in and have the opportunity to choose the activities that they like and enjoy. I’ve worked with children for over 30 years and many children who never had any outdoor experience have found joy and excitement outdoors in activities that they never thought that they would enjoy. But, someone has to introduce and mentor them so that they can make their own decisions. You can’t force children into nature and the outdoors, but you can guide them and show them that there are other modes of entertainment outside the cyber world. Another nice thing about the many outdoor activities is that they don’t have to be costly in these dire economic times. Fishing is an inexpensive activity, hiking, camping, bird watching, and canoeing can also be done at a low cost. The recent Kid’s Fishing Day held by the Yahara Fishing Club gave away rods, reels, and tackle boxes donated by Wal-Mart to over 350 children. They can now go fishing with the only cost being bait which also can be free for those who pick their own nightcrawlers!
This coming Saturday July 25th, 2009, is one of those outdoor events that is basically free to all who wish to participate. The event is the annual “Take an Adult Fishing Tournament” at the Wilderness Fish and Game store in Sauk City, Wisconsin. Anyone may enter a “team” as long as one member is less than 16 years of age. They must fill out a registration form signed by a parent, guardian, grandparent, brother, or sister. There is no fee and they may fish any waters that they choose as long as they are back at the Wilderness store by 2:00 pm for the official weigh-in. This event gives the “feeling’ of a big-time event with a stage, awards, and “goodie bags” for each team. This is a great opportunity to get the family out in the outdoors engaging in a family activity that is fun and healthy for all. Call the store at (608)-643-2433 and ask for sporting goods. They will then help get you and yours registered for a fun-filled day in wonderful Wisconsin. This is a low-key event that promotes the outdoors and getting families involved in low cost fun for all. Contact me at gengberg@garyengbergoutdoors.com for more details and information. I’ll see you there!

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