, Port Arthur, Texas

July 13, 2013

OUTDOORS COLUMN: Natural gifts are the best

Chester Moore, Jr.
The Port Arthur News

— Simplicity is a lost concept.

In a world intently fixated on all things electronic, the seemingly simple things in life often are glossed over.

As a children’s minister who works with kids twice a week I am amazed at just how disconnected children today are from simple pleases. I will never forget hosting a sleepover event for the boys of our church and realizing many had never roasted marshmallows or even heard of the practice for that matter.

You see the fact kids are so disconnected offers a unique opportunity to bless them with simple things that will flat out amaze them on their birthdays or other special occasinos. Let us take a turtle shell for example.

Box turtle and other turtle shells are a common find in the woods and I am always collecting the ones in good condition. I am amazed at how kids are so excited about seeing and handling them. They offer a great teachable lesson.

When a kid gets their hands on one you can teach them how the shell is a turtle’s mobile home of sorts but it is unique because it comes supplied with its own armor. When a predator attacks, the turtle can hide its head and legs and retreat into its own sanctuary. That is real life stuff kids crave but do not understand how to articulate until it is presented to them.

Snake sheds are common around barns, are occasionally found in the woods, and are popular with the kids I work with. I keep snakes and people are always giving me the sheds they find and they end up being prizes for answering trivia questions during my God’s Outdoors classes.

The look on a child’s eye when he or she figures out a snake leaves behind its old skin to reveal new is priceless. Some of course know this but many are shocked and being able to take home a memento of such an occasion is an exciting moment for them.

Without a doubt, the most popular natural gift you can find (or buy) is shark teeth. Kids (and big kids like me) love sharks and a shark tooth or jaw set is something that is guaranteed to put a smile on their face.

I remember getting my first set of shark jaws from a souvenir star on the Galveston Sea Wall back in the early 1980s. I treasured that thing and had my Dad mount it on a board to hang on the wall.

If you are crafty or are adept at using Internet search engines, you can find creative ways to put the teeth on a necklace. Almost every day of my life, I wear a shark tooth necklace as a reminder of one of my favorite creatures and because it just plain looks cool.

Boar’s tusks are also popular items especially with numerous reality programs dealing with hogs. These are easy to find and small ones are cheap to purchase on eBay. That might take some of the fun out of it but if you have a kid that thinks hogs are cool it is an option.

You do not have to get fancy to have an impact on the next time the child in your life has a special occasion. You might just need to step out in the woods and see what you can find.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Oudoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at