I have found that there are a great many of us who grew up living the outdoor lifestyle, but now find ourselves living in the suburbs. We struggle to keep the outdoor lifestyle and its traditions alive in our families today. We never imagined our families would grow up not knowing a beaver from a squirrel, never watching a day’s catch fry on an open fire, or not experiencing the thrill of watching that first quail drop. Growing up we took advantage of these experiences, and they shaped who we would become. The outdoor lifestyle was a tradition handed down from generation to generation. For many these events are distant memories and our families have replaced them with computer games, iPhones, and online shopping. People now realize the outdoor way of life is a healthy, challenging, and exciting lifestyle. There is an awakening of sorts, and many are bringing their families back to the outdoor lifestyle they once enjoyed.
The new trend is to educate and immerse your family in the outdoors; there are many new and creative opportunities to enjoy everything that Mother Nature has to offer. If you live in an urban or suburban area, finding ways to enjoy the wild outdoors can be more challenging. But there are options; programs such as Cabela’s Junior Ranger’s, Bass Pro Shops Family Camps, and traditional scouting programs are a fun way to get families outdoors. Even school districts are offering archery, sporting clay classes as well as classes like Outdoor Trails. With that said, nothing compares to parents and their kids getting outside together as a family, it is simply more fun when mom and dad are right there with you. A camping trip to a lake, exploring the shore, purifying lake water to drink, and a frying fish over a campfire is an adventure no family forgets. Not only is it fun, but purifying water and catching fish teaches the family that Mother Nature can provide in ways that man simply can not. Many families have embraced this and spend several weekends a month unplugging from work and challenging their outdoor skills on the lakes and in the woods near their homes.
I have found that it is a blast taking my family to hunting, fishing, or camping shows. It not only gives me a chance to see what’s new this year, but the family can see there are a lot of people currently living wild. It also proves my daughters can live without a phone in their hand! Looking through outfitters pictures and dreaming big with the family is fun, and I can drop some serious hints. Recently I took my family to the World Deer Expo in Birmingham, Alabama, and we came across the Shoot Like A Girl trailer. My wife and daughter met with a professional shooter who talked them through shooting a compound bow, pistol, and rifle. Although the pistol and rifle shoot air, they sound like a real gun, kick like a real gun, and hit a target like a real gun. It is the same training firearms that police use. There was also a variety of compound bows that fit women, as well as a coach that worked with them on form and fit. My wife and daughter shot well; in fact they enjoyed is so much that I ended up buying them a bow. Women like Eva Shockey and Tiffany Lakosky are inspiring women that the outdoors is a challenging and exciting world that women can enjoy too. Organizations like Buckmasters and Oath realize that wounded veterans and the terminally ill may have limitations, but still dream of hunting and fishing. To keep the terminally ill and veterans outdoor dreams alive these organizations are taking the terminally ill and veterans on hunting and fishing trips all over North America. With so many benefits and great opportunities, now is the time to plug your family into the outdoors.
I have to say I am lucky to live in the country northwest of Ft Worth, Texas. That has not always been the case; for 20 years I lived in the suburbs in North Richland Hills, Texas. Hunting, fishing, and the outdoors are a passion, so I leased land to hunt, fish, and camp. A mutual friend introduced me to Kevin Kelly, who grew up near Olney, Texas. Kevin now lives in a suburb of Ft Worth and leases year around hunting rights from several ranchers in the Olney area and subleases to us. It is a unique situation in that Kevin encourages our families to enjoy the lease in the off-season and certain days during hunting season. It is a struggle to juggle everyone in my family’s schedule, but now hunting and fishing is a big part of who we are as a family. We all realize how fun it is to spend time on the deer lease and look forward to every trip. They think nothing of eating the fish and game we bring home. My oldest daughter Ashley and her husband Andy are raising their three boys on wild game as well. They are into Crossfit and are on a Paleo diet and understand the game we bring home is so much better than packaged store meat. While outside the boys love to ride four wheelers, explore, and cook on a campfire.
My wife Debbie and I recently took our young grandson Madok to the lease for a day of exploring and shooting a BB gun. Madok had a million questions. He climbed, jumped, and investigated everything in his path. We explained what plants and insects to avoid; we stalked frogs on the pond bank and learned the difference between a dove and a black bird. I took the opportunity to instruct young Madok on proper gun safety with his BB gun. I believe it important to teach gun safety to our children starting at a very young age, even with BB guns. Our only expense was gas money and BB’s, but to Madok, Deb, and I it was an adventure. We plan many more trips to the deer lease and hope he and his brothers enjoy the outdoors as much as Debbie and I.
Many families are rekindling their love for the outdoors so much so that they are giving up their homes in the suburbs and moving to the country. I recently sold my home in North Richland Hills and moved to three acres outside Rhome Texas. My good friend Rudy Garcia sold his home in Grand Prairie to move to Richland Chambers Lake. Both of us are fortunate enough to work from home and technology made it possible for us to move. Rudy’s love is fishing. For a while, Rudy and his wife Marivel fished bass tournaments. Soon kids came along, and Rudy wanted his children growing up on the lake and not the streets. So they bought land near the lake, built a home, and have been catching fish ever since. His kids swim, boat, Jet Ski, and of course fish as much as they can. It is what they do and who they are. Their faith and their outdoor lifestyle are now what define them.
Of course, not everyone is in a position to take on a lease. There are many lakes, national parks, state parks, and even city parks you can enjoy. The Lyndon B Johnson National Grasslands are just down the road from me. You can fish, hunt, hike, camp, and ride horses. On a recent trip to the LBJ Grasslands I saw a father and son kayaking on the lake, you could not help but notice how the boy’s face lit up when he got the hang of rowing. I am not sure who was happier, the son that got the hang of keeping the kayak upright or the Dad. One of my favorite parks is the Roaring River State Park in Cassville, Missouri. It was there I caught my first trout. We caught, cleaned, and fried them all in the same day. To lure our families away from the TV and get us hooked on fishing, states like Texas are stocking city lakes and ponds with trout. Texas is not known for its trout and for many families this may be their best chance to experience trout fishing. Families and communities are awakening to the many benefits of living outdoors and making opportunities available for all to enjoy what nature can provide.
Enjoying the outdoors is much more than a fad; for many of us it is our passion and what drives us to do what we do. Whether you live in a suburban apartment, city townhouse or outside of town there are many opportunities for anyone wanting to unplug from the internet and plug into nature. My hope is that the “outside you” will awaken, and your entire family will notice the nature that surrounds them so much so that they will desire to make the outdoors a part of their lives.
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