My year has started with lots of rain and cold weather. I guess it's to be expected and the late fall and winter tends to be the wettest time of the year in North Georgia where I live. I'm trying to keep myself involved with the outdoors with activities I can accomplish during this time of the year. I'm starting with my commitment to lose a little weight and exercise to get my body in better shape. I'm also looking forward with what I can do as the year progresses to get my 9-year-old grandson more involved with outdoor activities.
Where do I begin? Here are some of the activities I've begun to not only find make the time for him, but to offer him a variety of activities:
Find out what they want to do: Sometimes I think we too often think we know what is best for our children/grandchildren with regards to outdoor activities. Instead I think it may be more valuable to find out what they would like to do. With all the distractions kids have today with movies, games, skateboards, etc., it may be difficult to impossible to "push" them into the outdoors. Rather, it would be worth the effort to spend some time to find out exactly what they would enjoy doing. Maybe a little hiking with them, with time spent providing some education on what you see during your hikes. Animal tracks, different types of trees, and other outdoor signs may be something that peaks some interest and will lead to them wanting more. Do they get excited when you talk about hunting your favorite game? If not spend time with them to explain why you hunt and what the benefits are. It's more than killing game, it's the entire experience.
While I was elated to take my grandson hunting for a weekend this past season, it became very clear that his passion for hunting has not yet developed, nor has his patience. I guess I should have expected as much as a 9-year-old does not stay focused on one activity very long. We did lots of other things outside our sitting during hunts, and I cut hunts short when I could tell he had lost interest. I'm planning on asking him to make a list of what he would like to do this year with his "Grampy" that will get us into the outdoors on a regular basis.
Take small steps: While I'm great at doing things on a grand scale, I have begun to realize that taking small steps with my grandson will likely increase his enjoyment and participation in outdoor activities. I want to take him camping and fishing and think maybe a "backyard" campout will be a good start. It will give him the opportunity to experience the outdoors at night, in a tent, without being so far from home that his fears overwhelm his enjoyment. If he enjoys the experience I can add the fishing adventure and plane a couple weekends at my favorite camping and fishing spot in the mountains. I'll just have to remember to stay on his schedule and not mine when it comes to activities that we time to this adventure
Prepare them for the journey: I don't think anything turns off a child faster that not being appropriately dressed or prepared for the experience you are trying to provide. Many years ago my oldest daughter kept bugging me about going deer hunting. I don't remember how old she was, but needless to say she was young. I thought I was prepared as we drove to the lease I hunted on. It turned out to be a very cold day, and I struggled as I tried to keep her warm during our hunt. It obviously was not a great experience for her as she never asked again to go with me. It's unfortunate as I would have loved for her to develop the passion I have for hunting. She is still very active in the outdoor and developed a real love of fishing. We've talked about doing some camping and fishing and I think, with the addition of my grandson, she will likely take advantage of this activity this year when our plans are made. (Come to think of it, I think I'll ask her to make a list of what she would like to do with me in the outdoors this year!)
Remember your family as you plan your outdoor activities. Don't expect that they will necessarily have a love or passion for those things you enjoy most, but do find a way to involve them and spend some of your outdoor time with activities they enjoy. You may be surprised at the times you can share with them doing what you thought was just your passion; the great outdoors.Make the outdoors an adventure for everyone in your family.