Children In The Outdoors

by Free Speech on June 11, 2011

Lodi, WI~

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

Kristine with Kids.

Local Column River Currents

A Wonderful Weekend for Children in the Outdoors

I constantly try in my writings to emphasize the importance of introducing children to the many activities and wonders that are in the “outdoors”. The activities can be as simple as a regular walk on a nice day while explaining to your children some of the many things of beauty and interest that so many take for granted like the budding of a flowering tree, viewing the numerous bird species that live in both the city and country, and or learning about and going fishing on one of our state’s many pristine lakes or rivers. We are constantly competing against the many other activities that vie for the young’s time and attention. Computers, which are wonderful instruments when used properly and at the right time, are the main activity that outdoor educators are competing against for the child’s time. I’m not down on children learning computer skills because they are necessary and important in today’s world. But, there is still room and time for getting outside and finding an outdoor activity that interests them. I spend much of my time with children introducing them to fishing, but this is just one of hundreds of outdoor activities that are available for today’s young when given the chance and opportunity.
Friday, there was a great event for many of the grade school children in Sauk City. Renowned author, K.J. Houtman, who has written three books for children in second through sixth grade which center on fishing, camping, and hunting, was in town to talk and read to the hundreds of local students from her books. The children that I saw with Ms. Houtman had read the first book, “A Whirlwind Opener” and by their comments, questions, and attentiveness one could see that the book was thoroughly enjoyed while making a lasting impression. Keeping children’s attention can be a difficult task, but Houtman didn’t have that problem with these children who were constantly raising their hands to ask questions about the book and its main character, Gus Roberts. I could tell just by listening that these kids had read the book and were interested in more material of this nature.
K.J. has written three books of about 80 pages each that follow Gus and his family and friends fishing, camping, hunting, and just enjoying nature and being in the outdoors. She has an excellent background in the outdoors and particularly fishing and it shows in her vast knowledge of outdoor activities. Kristine also knows how to talk and connect with todays young. Her other two books are; “Driving Me Crazy” and the third book is titled, “Spare the Rod” which continues the adventures and dreams of Gus Roberts and his family and friends. The success of these books is that they are entertaining and children can relate to Gus and his adventures. The trio of books gives the children a character that could be them or their friends. Another thing of importance is that this is material that the kids want to read and being an ex school teacher, I can’t emphasize the importance of reading! These books give children something that they want to read which isn’t an easy task in today’s schools where basic skills can be lacking. Houtman is working on her fourth book in this series and sees many more on the horizon. Hats off to K.J. for these wonderful books which I’ve found myself reading and so will you if you’re looking for another way to connect with your children by introducing them to new activities in the great outdoors. The books also deal with some of the problems and conflicts that kids encounter these days such as bullying and peer pressure. What a great way to teach some of life’s lessons in a subtle way.
Check out Kristine Houtman’s website at for more information on her books. They are a great way to raise funds for your group and they are only sold to non-profit groups. You can raise money for your organization while promoting children having fun in the outdoors. This is a win- win situation!
Saturday, I was a small part of the Kid’s Fishing Day in Madison sponsored by the Yahara Fishing Club and the National Association of Professional Anglers (NPAAA). The Yahara Fishing Club of Madison has a children’s fishing day in both the winter and early summer every year for over 300 young anglers and their parents and guardians. Wal-Mart and Rick Strayer has always come through with greatly discounted rods and reels bought by the fishing club, door prizes, lunch for all, and a cash donation. D and S Bait donated the live bait for over 300 young anglers and we thank Gene Dellinger and his wife Sandy. Jim Kloth, an NPAA member and Yahara Fishing Club member, headed the event and did a wonderful job of organizing an event of this size. NPAA member Greg Karch came all the way from Oshkosh to help teach the young to fish and gave an informative mini seminar on fishing basics and safety that had the crowded listening and paying attention.
The Kid’s Fishing Day started at 9:00 am, but there were families waiting in line by a little after 8:00 am. Club members were at Warner Park and Lagoon before 7:00 am rigging over 300 rods and reels for the hundreds of children. The rod and reel combos were handed out before 9:00 am and the participants spread themselves out around the lagoon to catch some bullheads, bluegills, and the odd turtle. Beginners were given one to one instruction in rigging, baiting, casting, and releasing caught fish safely. These young anglers are the future of fishing and it was a great sight to see hundreds of kids laughing and having family fun while fishing. This was the Free Fishing Weekend in Wisconsin where residents and non-residents could fish for free without spending a cent! DNR Warden Greg Stacey also was on hand to present an invasive species exhibit to the group. Greg has helped me in many of these children events and I thank him and the DNR for their continued support.
All in all, it was a great weekend for Wisconsin’s young and I sincerely hope that what was started by K.J. Houtman’s books and events like the Kid’s Fishing Day encourage adults to continue promoting the children’s interest in fishing and the many other outdoor activities that are often just at our fingertips. Thanks to all involved because you are the one’s who care about the future of our country’s young!

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