Getting Kids into the Outdoors A couple of weeks ago I unexpectedly heard from a friend who I haven’t seen in over 10 years. We used to work together until our company relocated to Portland, Oregon, and we lost touch while we each got on with our lives. It was quite a pleasant surprise to hear from Pam, and we began emailing to catch up on what had transpired since we last saw each other. Pam recently went through her second divorce, and while it has been tough on her, she is fighting through it and maintaining a positive attitude, which was one personality trait about her that I always admired. When we worked together she was a single mom of two young boys, and I always wondered how she managed to do that. Now she is the single mom of those same two boys and two younger kids, and she maintains that same optimistic outlook on life.
In our conversations I told her what I have been up to with my website, my writing, and trying to put more time into both of those. She said that she would really like to get her kids into the outdoors, but really didn’t know where or how to start. However she had already been working on planning a camping trip to take with her kids on July 1st, and she was excited about that. But she had some challenges in pulling it all together, and that is when I offered to help.
I explained to her that one of the main objectives of Bear Miller Outdoors is to get kids involved in the outdoors, and to build that thirst for adventure and love of the wilderness in the next generation. I told her that I wanted to help her by getting her kids some fishing gear they could use on their trip, and many more trips to come. I told her that it would not be an act of charity, but rather an act of my mission, and she agreed to let me do that. I was ecstatic! The opportunity to take action like this and have an immediate impact on four young people is something I hope for everyday, yet it rarely comes along.
The next day I took a trip to the sporting goods store to stock up on fishing gear for Pam and her kids. It is really a different kind of experience for me when I am shopping in a situation like this, knowing that the gear is for kids rather than me. I picked out rod & reel combos; two larger ones for the older boys, and two smaller ones for the younger girl and boy, Tabitha and Asher. I picked out an assortment of lures that I thought would do well at Dillon Lake where they are going; in-line spinners, crankbaits, Kastmasters, and minnow lures. I also threw in some gear for bait fishing; hooks, weights, swivels, bobbers, Power Bait, and salmon eggs. By the time I was done I had everything in my cart that Pam’s family would need on their trip.
There was one more thing I wanted to do especially for the older boys, Quinn and Alex, (17 and 15), and I did clear it with Pam first. Every boy loves to have a knife, and every fisherman or camper needs a knife. I had a couple of knives at home that I wanted to give to the boys, and I added them to the bag of gear.
The final piece of the package was for Pam, who had expressed her fear of bears in our conversations. I directed her to some articles I had written on bear safety, but I knew that wasn’t enough for her to feel safe. So the last thing I included was a can of bear spray, and I hope she doesn’t have to use it.
On Monday, June 30th, my son Kyle and I took all the gear over to Pam’s house in the evening. She was so grateful for the things we brought, and the next day she took her kids on their camping trip into the mountains. She emailed me tonight saying they had a great time, although they didn’t catch any fish,but she said they had a wonderful experience. She sent some pictures, which I have included in this post.
To me, this is a huge success story; I was able to help a single mother get her kids outdoors and enjoy some fishing. Tabitha, the young daughter, wanted to catch a “rainbow sprout on her fishing
pool,” how adorable is that? It’s moments like this that make me feel good about what I do. It isn’t just about my fishing, hunting, and survival experiences, it’s more about passing on that passion to the generations to come, and I made some progress towards that this week.