Unplugging into the Outdoors


    Kyle and Carson Pape“Get off the video games and go outside!”  How many times have I said that in the last 5 years?

     Even though I don’t particularly enjoy yelling about video games to the kids, I probably do it several times a week. I played my share growing up (maybe I still test a few just to make sure they are safe for the kids), but the older I get, and the more ingrained I see computers, video games, and other forms of technology take hold in our society, the more I feel moved to remove myself from it. Getting my kids involved in hunting and fishing is the way I see to unplug from all the technology we have in our lives, slow down, and inject activities that aren’t forced at the speed of a button push.

     Kids today lead extremely systematic lives with limited recess, extended school hours, increased testing, and more homework. In general, the academic expectations are higher across the board than ever before. Expectations are important, but with the volume of expectations our young ones are under these days, it’s just as important for them to decompress as it is for us. Long day at work? Meetings all day? Our kids do this day in, day out.

     Although I have absolutely no professional training, license, or work experience in child psychology (other than having 4 kids of my own), my personal opinion is that video games, computers, and other forms of like technology are responsible for the instant gratification mindset we too often see in kids. Perhaps, it could even be extended to causes of ADHD issues, as well. How do you help your children learn patience, when so much of their life revolves around an instant response at the push of a button?

     For example, how many of you have a DVR in your home? In our day, cartoons were on Saturday mornings. You didn’t wake up in time? Tough! You missed it. Miss your cartoon today? No problem!  Just pull up the DVR, and right at your fingertips are the last 17 seasons of “Pokeman” or “Sofia the First” to binge watch. Long line in a restaurant? No problem, whip out the iPhone, iPad, Galaxy tablet, etc. and play the latest version of Angry Birds or Minecraft rather than engage in anything that could possibly be construed as meaningful conversation.

     Wait a sec, what was this article about again? Oh, yeah, outdoors!

Reagan and Kyle Pape

     I started taking my kids fishing and hunting before they were two years old. Expectations were set at “fun,” which included throwing out handfuls of corn, walking through the brush looking for shed horns, going for short boat rides, catching piggy perch at the dock, then building up to more significant trips. This allowed them to go through a discovery process at their own pace. Since then, they have matured and become more capable over the years. I often get compliments about my oldest son (12 years old) being more “hardcore” when it comes to fishing than many adults! Both of my sons have taken turkey, hogs, and deer in the last couple of years, and all four of my kids have been catching fish of some sort since they were toddlers. Spending time learning about the outdoors, in an arena removed from all the technology that normally surrounds them, helps develop a strong bonding experience, allows for conversations about the world we live in, and most importantly, enables (forces?) patience.

Cameron and Kyle Pape 2

     We have sat on a hunt many times waiting for a deer to come out, and end up seeing nothing. We have spent many fishing trips catching small fish, or very few fish. These realistic experiences make the occurrence of catching a big fish or taking a nice deer even more special. It teaches them that you have to work at whatever it is in order to achieve a goal. It teaches them that things don’t always happen exactly when you want. It teaches them the circle of life, life lessons that everyone needs.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty….”
– Theodore Roosevelt