Don’t Forget the Kids

Everett Johnson
Scott Null has a great story in this month's Kayak Fishing Department explaining the role of family members in his development as a fishermen. In his words:

"Most of us with a lifelong passion for fishing started as youngsters fishing with a parent, grandparent or possibly another family member. I was lucky to have all the above. Some had no passion of their own but were kind enough to indulge mine."

Now either some kids are awful lucky or that must happen a lot. I say this because it happened to me also.

My mother, bless her heart, drove me out to Big Run Creek well before daylight on many a school day before I was old enough to drive so that I could get in an hour or two of trout fishing before I had to be in class. When she picked me up I would change clothes in the back seat and then gobble breakfast before grabbing my books to beat the homeroom bell. She cleaned my catch. And by the way - Mickey D never invented the breakfast gut bomb. She had it perfected long before they ever dreamed of it. I still call it Egg McShirley.

My dad was equally awesome. He would help us mow the grass in our old Ford Galaxy's headlights and helped us the same way in the garden so we could spend all day Saturday at Pymatuning Reservoir or Neshannock Creek. When he worked the graveyard shift, without going to bed Saturday morning, he would take us hunting and fishing all day. He was an avid outdoorsman with plenty buddies he could have gone with instead, but he went that extra mile for his boys.

I have written here of the joy of taking my own kids fishing and now my grandkids, but Scott's story really hit home. Part of being a good parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt includes getting the younger generation on the water and out in the field. In this crazy busy time we live in we all have important things to do and fishing and hunting time is often scarce, a rare chance to get away and unwind. Taking a kid along can sometimes be cumbersome I know. But in leaving them behind we miss a heck of a chance to make a difference in their young lives. And even if you have no kids, or maybe yours are grown and gone; I'm sure there are plenty of nephews, nieces, or youngsters in the neighborhood.

As Scott says, "Take a kid fishing is more than just a slogan, it is an important thing to do for many reasons." I cannot help but think if more kids had the opportunity to learn and grow in the outdoors we would have far less trouble in our schools and our society in general.

I can remember my dad saying, "Son, you can only expect to get out what you put in."
As applied to parenting and mentoring, I think he hit the nail on the head. Fourth of July weekend is a great time to go.