Get the kids outside!

There are few activities that foster the bond between parents and their children than participating in outdoor adventures, simply enjoying the woods together. The outdoors offers inclusive activities that allow both adults and kids to share equally in the experience.

Such activities require cooperation and trust between adults and kids while helping to instill traditional values, connectivity with nature and a healthy lifestyle.

A parent will discover more about their child in an hour of playing together than can be accomplished in a lifetime of conversation. Shared play is the most genuine act that children and adults can know.

It is a fact known throughout history. Herodotus, the Greek historian claimed that: "Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play."

I'd like to see New York institute a statewide, school based initiative to promote youth participation in the outdoors. Although numerous public and private groups are currently working to get youth interested and involved in the outdoors; the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation should be charged with the responsibility for developing a comprehensive educational/recreational program for the schools. Such a program could be be offered as a component of physical education or wellness.

Increasing youth participation in outdoors is one of the major issues facing the recreation industry today. If young people are not introduced to these opportunities at an early age, they will engage in other hobbies and interests. Remember, it's human nature to follow the path of least resistance.

The necessity of fostering the next generation of hunters, anglers, hikers, bikers, climbers, skiers and paddlers is one of the most pressing needs of the current conservation community. Today's children will be tomorrow's policy makers. They will be making the decisions about the utilization and protection of our shared natural resources.

In order to insure the viability of these lands and waters in the future, we must make efforts in the current day.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net

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