By Josh Boyd
It appears, at times, that society is fighting a battle that we have already lost. We strive to maintain the simple values and virtues of the generations before us, all the while moving in a direction that modernizes every facet of day to day life. This movement, in many regards, has eliminated the proverbial back porch talks of days past, instead replacing them with any means of technological entertainment, all for the sake of passing time.
We live in a day where family dinners are eaten with seldom a word spoken, and digital communications are glorified as a viable alternative to actual conversation. This has in turn given rise to a generation of youth that opt for afternoons locked away playing video games, over those spent lost in their imaginations while exploring the wilds right outside their window.
However, we cannot pass blame solely to the children of today for their lack of adventurous spirit because we are not blameless ourselves.
The rising price of getting by has led both parents in many households to work long hours, making it increasingly difficult to find the time necessary to get our children out from in front of a television set, and into the woods or onto the water.
The fact is, despite how weary we become from the day to day rigors of life, there is nothing more important than the time spent with our children in their youth.
As winter turns to spring, let us not forget our younger days spent on the banks of a creek or pond with our parents. Instead, this spring, make time available to take your child fishing, as these memories last a lifetime for all involved.
Taking a child fishing need not be an elaborate affair, but there are some key points to consider when attempting to maximize their enjoyment of the experience at hand.
Let Your Child Call the Shots
As tempting as it is to make all of the decisions when taking your child fishing, sometimes allowing him or her to make their own decisions along the way is the best course of action. By letting a child decide where they want to fish, where to cast, and what they want to use as bait, you are allowing them to take an active role in the process, and assigning worth to their opinion.
The reality is, most children think they want to be adults, allowing them to make important decisions, while unbeknownst to them, we as adults long to relive the days of our youth. By letting them call the shots, you are allowing your child to feel grown-up in all that they do.
Teach Instead of Simply Doing
Children’s brains are like sponges. They soak up information and are curious by nature. This makes learning an interesting proposition for a child. By showing your son or daughter what you are doing, and explaining the reason for these actions, they not only are provided an opportunity to learn, but they take interest in replicating the same actions themselves.
Instead of just simply tying your child’s hook on, show them how to tie a knot. When a fish is caught, show them how to unhook it without getting finned, rather than taking it off before they can take stock of the situation. After years have passed and the memory has aged, your child will be far more likely to remember what you taught them, rather than the fish they caught.
Make Them Comfortable
It is no secret that a child’s attention span is typically limited, as opposed to that of an adult. This becomes a factor that must be considered when attempting to make their outing as enjoyable as possible.
A comfortable child is much more likely to remember the day in a positive light, as opposed to if they were hungry, hot, or cold. Consider anything that might lead to your child’s discomfort, and attempt to alleviate this issue before it comes into play.
Always pack snacks along when taking a child fishing. Unlike adults that can fish right through the noon hour without thinking twice when the fishing is hot, even a 4-pound bass will not typically negate the hunger of a nine-year-old.
It is also quite helpful to study the weather forecast before leaving the house. Make sure that you always have extra layers in the vehicle to ensure against an unexpected chill.
Likewise, if warm, sunny weather is expected, be certain to have an adequate amount of high SPF sunscreen on hand. A bad sunburn will almost certainly affect the light in which a child remembers the day.
In addition, a lawn chair can be your best friend during outings of this nature, as a child that is forced to stand or sit on rocky ground for extended periods will likely express discomfort in short order.
Know When to Call It a Day
Even when having the best day imaginable, a child will eventually grow tired and their attention span will begin to dwindle. Every child acts differently when they have reached this point, and it is important to identify when your son or daughter is telling you they have had enough.
When you observe your child fidgeting excessively, losing interest, or becoming fatigued, heed this warning and call it a day. There is a very fine line in a child’s mind between enjoyment and feeling as if they are being forced to do something. Be careful not to let your outings cross this line.
Give the Gift of the Outdoors
This spring, no matter how frenzied your schedule becomes, make it a priority to turn off the television, put away the video games, and take your child out to experience all that a day on the water has to offer. By “unplugging” your children and showing them firsthand the values of a day spent in natural simplicity, you will be building long-lasting memories, and giving them the gift of the great outdoors.