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Mentoring crucial for outdoor kids

 Taking a kid on a fishing or hunting trip to introduce them to the outdoors is a wonderful gesture but the reality is, it is not enough.

      It is not enough to keep them motivated to stay involved in outdoors pursuits long-term and may not even result in a passing phase of outdoors fascination in their lives. This is not the 1950s when Fred Bear’s archery exploits were played in the cinema or even the 1980s when at least Dallas’s flagship character JR Ewing would go hunting between philandering and ripping people off.

      This is the 2000s, when the closest thing to the outdoors looking cool in the popular media is some survival exploit on a reality show.

     A few years back, I saw a standup comedian say that if you want to punish modern child, tell them they have to play outside. While I nearly laughed myself off the seat, I felt a twinge of sadness inside because it is the truth.

      Peer pressure has always been and will always be the major determining factor in the lives of many young people To combat this kind and turn potentially damaging things it into a desire to seek excitement in the great outdoors, we are going to need a new game plan. You would not hunt a grizzly with a paintball gun nor should we target the youth of America with a quick trip to the outdoors and expect them to trade in their X-Box for a tackle box.

    That’s where mentoring comes in

    By taking those children that discover a love for the outdoors at one of these kinds of event and pairing them with a mentor; it may be possible to put them on a path of lifelong outdoors adventures.

      I am not saying programs that involve taking a kid hunting or fishing once have no value because they do help some children. However, if we want to make them truly effective we need to pair the children with a mentor.

      A mentoring situation could be as simple as e-mail communications about outdoors trips and outfitting them with tackle. Then again, it could go as far as regular trips to the field and taking a genuine role in their lives to steer them toward the right course.

      Another thing is we need to better reward those young people with a passion for the outdoors. If you have a child that likes to hunt or fish, send the photos of their bit catch or first deer to us to be recognized.

      There are some exceptions to the rule that have ambition, drive and determination. They deserve our respect and kudos and more importantly, we should do everything in our power to keep them focused on these positive things. Kids who are leaders who hunt and fish are often ostracized from the “in” crowd. For a kid with a strong backbone that can actually be beneficial because the “in” crowed is usually the “in trouble” crowd but for those who might be a little weaker, it is important to give them all the support we can.

      The forces aligned against children nowadays are staggering. Whether they hail from the barrio or white picket fence suburbs, they all deserve a chance to enjoy the bounty of the great outdoors and we should fight for this opportunity for them. I certainly do not have all of the answers to this dilemma but I do know that mentorship can make a big difference.

    At some point it is important for all of us (me included here) to quit worrying chiefly about our own outdoors exploits and focus our efforts on helping the next generation.

    If we don’t there are enough horrible examples of lifestyles to live promoted on television, the Internet and in our neighborhoods to keep any conscientious parent up at night.

    If you love the great outdoors and children, consider mentoring. It could save a kid’s life and change yours for the better.

Chester Moore, Jr is The News Outdoors News. To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at saltwater@fishgame.com. You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.