I was pleased to see ODNR Director, Sean Logan’s letter promoting the Step Outside program. I agree that it is time we all reduced our time spent viewing TV and playing video games and got off of the couch. Besides, I just heard that a plasma TV uses four times the electricity of your old set and that video games are energy hogs. The last time I looked sunshine was free. While the need to get outdoors is not limited to young people it is especially important to them.
Even smaller cities and towns are not as close to “wilderness” as they were in my youth. Of course, the woods and fields surrounding East Palestine were not really a wilderness, but they certainly were wild in the imagination of a 10-year old boy. And they stayed that way well into my teen years. Still, there must be places where young people can connect with nature and not suffer from Nature Deficient Disorder.
Most of the fields I once roamed with my friends and dogs have been swallowed up by development so choices are limited for modern young people. There also is the natural fear parents have for their children’s safety. I am not certain if there are more attacks on children today, or if the news coverage is just more complete and available.
Our parents certainly must have worried about us, and if they had seen us climbing strip mine walls as though they were Mount Everest, they would have locked us in our rooms until we at least graduated from high school. But I doubt they had much fear of us being hurt by strangers. There didn’t seem to be much of that in the 1950s. We also carried .22 rifles and shotguns during our forays afield. That might have been a deterrent.
We now live in a different time. Heck, we live in a different century. Youth activities are now very organized. When was the last time you saw a group of guys playing baseball with an old ball covered with electrical tape and a rock for second base? The plus side of this is that there are organized outdoor activities for both boys and girls.
No matter what the ACLU might claim, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America are terrific organizations. Not only do they provide outdoor activities, but the morals and honor they teach are what we need today. It’s been a while for me and I might not get it right, but I remember saying, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country. To help other people at all timesÖ” I challenge anyone to show me what is wrong with a young person repeating that oath.
In addition to groups such as the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of America, many of our sportsmen’s clubs have youth programs. Some of these are once a year events, but many are year round activities. These programs are especially useful for the parent who does not hunt, hike or fish, but has a child who is interested in these activities. Just keep in mind that these are not baby sitting services and the parent should try to be involved.
Even though we might not be as free to roam as we once were, nature is still there if you look for it. Here in Morning Journal Country we have state, county and municipal parks. We have public lakes and a national scenic river. There is just no excuse to sit in the house and watch reruns.
Today is Father’s Day and I can think of no better way to spend it than for the family to pack a picnic lunch and head for the outdoors. I’ll bet dad will enjoy that present more than an ugly necktie.
If you were a little confused about last week’s column it was because I forgot to change the recommended website address from blue to black. My software just automatically prints websites and e-mail addresses in blue, and blue will not print when the newspaper copies my column. The website for the Carp Anglers Group is and you will find a lot of information if you go there.