At the ripe old age of eight years old, I can vividly remember my mother yelling out the front door to get in the house and wash my hands for dinner.
Road hockey after school out on the street was the norm in the neighbourhood, and in those days it’s what kept us kids occupied and active. If we weren’t on the street playing hockey, we were over at the school yard throwing a football or playing scrub baseball.
There were no cell phones, texting, iPhones, computers, iPods, email, Facebook, Skype and an array of other options available to kids today. There were no 50” high definition flat screen TVs with 800 channels and surround sound.
We had one rotary dial phone in the house, and one television with six channels on it. We had no MTV or MuchMusic channels that in a lot of cases depict videos of sexual content and crime. There were no teenage reality shows influencing and warping our youth’s minds.
Back then we actually had to get off the couch and manually change channels on our huge 21” televisions.
As a kid I was one of the fortunate ones brought up in a home where my dad and grandfather hunted and fished, which usually encompassed most of my time off when not in school, and I am so grateful today that I was granted that opportunity at a young age to experience hunting and angling. It set the stage for what my passion would be for the rest of my life.
Today, my outdoor heritage is one of the most important parts of my life not only as a participant but as an outdoor writer as well. However, I have seen a lot of changes over the last four decades, in particular with the amount of youth or lack of in the hunting and angling fraternity.
It seems modern technology has overtaken young peoples’ lives in more ways than one, and I can say this with confidence as I watched my own two children and many of my friends’ children become captured by a revolution of electronics and communication gizmos.
Has the computer age robbed our kids of something they may never get to experience?
I see young kids at the age of 10 years old with cell phones, and teenagers 15 and 16 years old with Blackberrys and iPhones with complete data packages and full access to the Internet while riding the school bus to and from school.
Is this necessary at that age?
I know some young people that would rather have an arm amputated than lose their cell phone, text and emailing capabilities.
Although we are all caught up in today’s technological advancements in some way or another, I believe some level of responsibility should be placed on parents to ensure their children will get an opportunity to experience the wilds whether it be via a day in the field hunting, angling, camping, hiking, or some sort of outdoor recreation.
I don’t think there is any kid who would not enjoy a day out on the boat catching a few walleye or smallmouth bass. Or maybe walking some trails hunting small game.
Over the years I have had the privilege of taking several young people out to do such a thing, and the majority of them embraced it, and to this day have become avid hunters and anglers.
The key word is opportunity and if more kids put down their cell phones, logged off Facebook and ventured out into the bush or onto an inland lake, they may see a whole different world out there; one they never knew existed and one which they may like and ultimately turn to.
You don’t have to be a hunter or angler to give someone else an opportunity at trying it. We all know somebody who is an outdoorsman, whether it be a relative or another family member who your son or daughter can tag along with.
There are several avenues one can take so their son or daughter can experience what we are famous for here in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.
The future of our hunting and angling heritage is getting more reliant on our youth of today and with more pressure being put on us by the well funded antis, it’s imperative our young people get more educated and more involved in our hunting and angling activities so we can sustain a viable resource that has been in place for eons.
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