Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Film Explores Youth Interest in the Outdoors

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

Field Notes
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

February 08, 2013

Film Explores Youth Interest in the Outdoors

By Chad Love

It's an all-too-common lament among parents that getting kids interested in the outdoors is becoming harder and harder to do. But what to do about it? According to this evocative short film (hat tip to Southern Rockies Nature Blog for the find) made by a father and scoutmaster in Montana, "maybe teens aren't interested in nature because we're selling them too much freedom to consume, rather than enough opportunity to explore."

From this post on backpackinglight.com:
In August of 2012, my son's Scout troop planned a backpacking trek across the Spanish Peaks, a unit of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness in Southwest Montana. You can read the photo essay here. This trek was an interesting one for me. It was one where I observed the boundless enthusiasm and excitement of crossing a rugged mountain range by one group of boys (the ones that attempted it) and the cynicism and disdain for trekking by others who had no intention of participating in a hike like this. I struggle to develop a strong thesis for why this is (although I'm rather sure our forum members will rapidly come up with one following the publication of this article!). However, I can't help but reflect on how our changing culture might be inhibiting backcountry participation by kids.

Thoughts? Are we, as the film states, giving our kids too much freedom to consume and not enough freedom to explore?

Comments (11)

Top Rated
All Comments
from CL3 wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Are kids a reflection of their parents? Young kids love to imitate their parents and just do what they are doing. My 2 year old just wants to go fishing with me. So, I will give her every opportunity, short of freezing her tookus off on the ice this winter, to fish with me.

I think it's about providing opportunities and seeing what the kids do with them. Now, as parents, what opportunities are you going to provide? And finally, other people's kids are eventually going to influence your kids.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from nehunter92 wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Growing up in a metro area, it can be an insurmountable task trying to enjoy the outdoors in any type of meaningful way. This happens to today’s youth for a variety of reasons. If you are a teenager living in a metro area (like I was only a year ago), then you may not have free access to reliable transportation. Even if you are old enough to have a driver’s license, you probably cannot afford a car with gas and insurance being so expensive. Even if said teen had any exposure to the wilderness, which is highly unlikely, you would no way to get to these areas on a regular basis.
That’s all assuming of course that said teen has free time, which is becoming a rare commodity for a significant fraction of some teenagers. Where I grew up could be described as “upscale metro.” It’s a highly urbanized environment inhabited by most well to do folks. Their parents put quite a bit of pressure on them to attend Ivy League colleges. This means that these teens start building their “resume” at about age 14. They pack their schedules with after school activities and academic achievements. While these are not necessarily bad things, this leaves little time to these kids to try anything truly new or outside their comfort zone. This also applies to younger children, whose schedules are becoming increasingly packed with parentally determined activates.
Some even may fear the idea of doing anything outdoorsy within itself. Our society has become increasingly paranoid of the evil boogeyman “germs.” Everywhere you look you see people squirting their hands with purell or some other sanitizer, god forbid you catch a head cold. Some adults act like if their kids touch dirt their hands will melt. Imagine taking people with this mentality and asking them to hold a slimy fish right out of the river (the evil, nasty, germ laden river.) Kids are bombarded these days with “don’t touch this” and “stay away from that.” Kids these days are taught, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that going outside is a hazard that must be endured, rather than an opportunity to be a part of the awesome spectacle of nature.
So imagine yourself as one of these youths. You are surrounded mostly by the city. You have no way of going more than 15 miles, and getting sick is the worst possible thing that could ever happen to you (due to the loss of that much needed academic time as much as the health issue). Is it any wonder they turn to electronics to fill the void?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuck the weasel wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I don't think it is lack of opportunity that is keeping kids away from the outdoors. As a 17 year old who has lived in the suburbs for all of my life, I have always found ways to enjoy the outdoors. I started off shooting squirrels with a wrist rocket in my backyard and catching small catfish with a cane pole and corn in the little muddy pond in our neighborhood. I found friends with similar interests and we ended up taking weekend trips to fish public lakes and hunt public lands. Over time the small neighborhood tinkering turned into an awesome hobby of catching lunker bass and bowhunting whitetail deer. Of course some kids have it easier growing up in the country with outdoors-living families, but it is still possible otherwise. The kids that aren't out aren't out there because they chose not to go get some fresh air, not because they have zero opportunities to get outside. You don't need to have a fullscale trip to the Rocky Mountains to be in the outdoors- although the video seems to suggest so

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Boiler02 wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

As a teacher I see kids every day who are involved in nothing other than their video games until the early hours of the morning, which then affects them academically. I have the others who are so busy in extracurricular activities that they rarely get outside and many/most have to work as well. I have often had an idea that I would like to start an outdoors club at school doing activities like day hikes and fishing. What do you think Chuck, would a club like that be successful in high schools today?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hobob wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I think that th outdoors are not as instantly stimulating as other activities for today's youth. Given the tremendous rise in competitiveness and electronics kids today lose interest quickly. When they get older I think many will come back to relax and explore later in life. Its probably cyclical. But people will always come to the outdoors to recharge, just more at some time periods than others. People are way more protective of their kids today but given the current culture of fear its to be expected.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ncarl wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

In regards to kids growing up in the suburbs. I think this could have a very big impact. Why would you want to go fishing again if your first experience was a bad one at some mudhole in the middle of the city. gas is just to damn expensive for any kid from the city to drive to a decent fishing spot. Hunting access is hard to find because its hard to get to know landowners in the city and so on.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuck the weasel wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Boiler, that depends on the high school. My high school has an angling club which is always popular with some of the kids. Our computer science teacher is the moderator. We find times on the weekends that work around jobs and sports, and then set a date. We all carpool from the school to the lake we voted on and have a great day fishing. Some years the club is packed with members and we clog up the lake with anyone from master anglers to beginners, while other years it is only a few diehard outdoorsmen/women trying to keep it alive. I'd say the biggest problem with getting people to go is time. I myself had to miss many of the ice fishing trips because of my hockey games. I work in the summer, but people with winter jobs also found it hard to go. Most of the fishing trips took more than half a day (even though it was time well spent). I'd say the interest for an outdoors club would be there but organizing and making it happen is the hard part.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ncarl wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

There is another good point! There is to much pressure on kids to play sports or do extracurricular activities. Adults these days think the only way to keep kids out of trouble is to always have there mind occupied with sports practice.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from nehunter92 wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Chuck
It’s absolutely awesome that you had the opportunity to really explore the option of outdoors interests where you grew up. I am also genuinely heartened to see that there are some youth clubs out there committed to the outdoors and that are trying to make a difference. I would have loved to have seen one of those clubs at my high school.
One question I have to ask though is where do you live? Sometimes general regional attitudes can make forming such clubs difficult. Here in the urban centers of the Northeast, many adults view hunting as an activity roughly equivalent to witchcraft. This is not exactly the complete prevailing attitude mind you, but such views have a strong foothold here. Fishing though is different, as we have many coastal towns where sport fishing is a relatively mainstream activity. There is a marked difference between the accessibility of fishing and hunting, as like you said, many urban centers do have decent fishing areas.
One also must keep in mind, that not all suburbs are created equal. If I had tried to take out some squirrels in my neighborhood with a wrist rocket, the neighbors may have had me arrested. It can also be harder to establish decent connections with fishing in areas where what few waters there are available are badly polluted. Cat fishing is of course more fun when you can eat the catfish, but that would be a bad idea if said catfish came from the Charles River.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuck the weasel wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

nehunter92 I agree that it is a huge privilege to be able to explore outdoors related interests as a child. It may not be the life for some people, but it is for me! Where do I live? - I live in southern Michigan, near the bottom center of the mitten. Although I have never lived anywhere else, I'd have to say that us Michiganders are pretty fond of our outdoors. As for the urban vs rural concept, I completely agree. My highschool is at the bottom of the city, so there is a mixture of city folk and country folk respectively. That being said not all country folk practice outdoors-related activities while city folk don't- I am a prime example of that. However I'm sure an angling club in one of the high schools out in the more rural part of my county would have way more participation. I don't think they'd even need one- I know several of these high schools already get opening day for deer season off! (I'm jealous)

In regards to eating the fish I catch, I am confident that the water is pretty pollutant free here. There are plenty of tadpoles and crayfish and other organisms that seem to be doing fine, and I haven't died yet. The only thing we avoid is the river after it travels through the city. The water gets nasty after its trip through the industrial part, and I would rather not risk it. We usually let the fish go, but every summer we'll have a couple of fish frys with perch, bluegill, and catfish out of the clean headwaters of the river, lakes, and ponds.

And for my wrist-rocket squirrel hunting- trust me, I know that all neighborhoods aren't equal, mine is no exception. I have gotten in plenty of trouble with several of the neighbors, who I'm now careful to avoid. They don't care if you have a small game license or that the squirrels are getting into your attic. You just have to apologize for anything they said you did wrong and promise not to do it again, no matter what logic actually exists. But such is the life of a suburban outdoorsman.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jgreg64 wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

I am a teacher on a reservation and each year we try to get the children involved in the many aspects of the outdoors, especially with their heritage. We take them on hiking trips, canoe trips, ricing, and spearing. We have found that making these trips a reward keeps them motivated to go on these trips. Many times its essay based where they have to write about their experience with the outdoors or why they want to experience it. I have also recently began taking one or two students a year who want to learn to hunt and enroll them in hunter safety and make sure that they are able to attend. One of the best parts is seeing them on their first hunts. The excitement is great. I have also found it is the girls that we take who really love going. I think getting both genders involved is very important. I agree that we are giving the children too much freedom. For them to experience the outdoors and learn what something is all they have to do is grab there phone and the answer is there. Now more than ever we need to get youth involved in the outdoors.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from nehunter92 wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Growing up in a metro area, it can be an insurmountable task trying to enjoy the outdoors in any type of meaningful way. This happens to today’s youth for a variety of reasons. If you are a teenager living in a metro area (like I was only a year ago), then you may not have free access to reliable transportation. Even if you are old enough to have a driver’s license, you probably cannot afford a car with gas and insurance being so expensive. Even if said teen had any exposure to the wilderness, which is highly unlikely, you would no way to get to these areas on a regular basis.
That’s all assuming of course that said teen has free time, which is becoming a rare commodity for a significant fraction of some teenagers. Where I grew up could be described as “upscale metro.” It’s a highly urbanized environment inhabited by most well to do folks. Their parents put quite a bit of pressure on them to attend Ivy League colleges. This means that these teens start building their “resume” at about age 14. They pack their schedules with after school activities and academic achievements. While these are not necessarily bad things, this leaves little time to these kids to try anything truly new or outside their comfort zone. This also applies to younger children, whose schedules are becoming increasingly packed with parentally determined activates.
Some even may fear the idea of doing anything outdoorsy within itself. Our society has become increasingly paranoid of the evil boogeyman “germs.” Everywhere you look you see people squirting their hands with purell or some other sanitizer, god forbid you catch a head cold. Some adults act like if their kids touch dirt their hands will melt. Imagine taking people with this mentality and asking them to hold a slimy fish right out of the river (the evil, nasty, germ laden river.) Kids are bombarded these days with “don’t touch this” and “stay away from that.” Kids these days are taught, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that going outside is a hazard that must be endured, rather than an opportunity to be a part of the awesome spectacle of nature.
So imagine yourself as one of these youths. You are surrounded mostly by the city. You have no way of going more than 15 miles, and getting sick is the worst possible thing that could ever happen to you (due to the loss of that much needed academic time as much as the health issue). Is it any wonder they turn to electronics to fill the void?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuck the weasel wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Boiler, that depends on the high school. My high school has an angling club which is always popular with some of the kids. Our computer science teacher is the moderator. We find times on the weekends that work around jobs and sports, and then set a date. We all carpool from the school to the lake we voted on and have a great day fishing. Some years the club is packed with members and we clog up the lake with anyone from master anglers to beginners, while other years it is only a few diehard outdoorsmen/women trying to keep it alive. I'd say the biggest problem with getting people to go is time. I myself had to miss many of the ice fishing trips because of my hockey games. I work in the summer, but people with winter jobs also found it hard to go. Most of the fishing trips took more than half a day (even though it was time well spent). I'd say the interest for an outdoors club would be there but organizing and making it happen is the hard part.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from CL3 wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Are kids a reflection of their parents? Young kids love to imitate their parents and just do what they are doing. My 2 year old just wants to go fishing with me. So, I will give her every opportunity, short of freezing her tookus off on the ice this winter, to fish with me.

I think it's about providing opportunities and seeing what the kids do with them. Now, as parents, what opportunities are you going to provide? And finally, other people's kids are eventually going to influence your kids.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuck the weasel wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I don't think it is lack of opportunity that is keeping kids away from the outdoors. As a 17 year old who has lived in the suburbs for all of my life, I have always found ways to enjoy the outdoors. I started off shooting squirrels with a wrist rocket in my backyard and catching small catfish with a cane pole and corn in the little muddy pond in our neighborhood. I found friends with similar interests and we ended up taking weekend trips to fish public lakes and hunt public lands. Over time the small neighborhood tinkering turned into an awesome hobby of catching lunker bass and bowhunting whitetail deer. Of course some kids have it easier growing up in the country with outdoors-living families, but it is still possible otherwise. The kids that aren't out aren't out there because they chose not to go get some fresh air, not because they have zero opportunities to get outside. You don't need to have a fullscale trip to the Rocky Mountains to be in the outdoors- although the video seems to suggest so

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Boiler02 wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

As a teacher I see kids every day who are involved in nothing other than their video games until the early hours of the morning, which then affects them academically. I have the others who are so busy in extracurricular activities that they rarely get outside and many/most have to work as well. I have often had an idea that I would like to start an outdoors club at school doing activities like day hikes and fishing. What do you think Chuck, would a club like that be successful in high schools today?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hobob wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I think that th outdoors are not as instantly stimulating as other activities for today's youth. Given the tremendous rise in competitiveness and electronics kids today lose interest quickly. When they get older I think many will come back to relax and explore later in life. Its probably cyclical. But people will always come to the outdoors to recharge, just more at some time periods than others. People are way more protective of their kids today but given the current culture of fear its to be expected.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ncarl wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

In regards to kids growing up in the suburbs. I think this could have a very big impact. Why would you want to go fishing again if your first experience was a bad one at some mudhole in the middle of the city. gas is just to damn expensive for any kid from the city to drive to a decent fishing spot. Hunting access is hard to find because its hard to get to know landowners in the city and so on.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ncarl wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

There is another good point! There is to much pressure on kids to play sports or do extracurricular activities. Adults these days think the only way to keep kids out of trouble is to always have there mind occupied with sports practice.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from nehunter92 wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Chuck
It’s absolutely awesome that you had the opportunity to really explore the option of outdoors interests where you grew up. I am also genuinely heartened to see that there are some youth clubs out there committed to the outdoors and that are trying to make a difference. I would have loved to have seen one of those clubs at my high school.
One question I have to ask though is where do you live? Sometimes general regional attitudes can make forming such clubs difficult. Here in the urban centers of the Northeast, many adults view hunting as an activity roughly equivalent to witchcraft. This is not exactly the complete prevailing attitude mind you, but such views have a strong foothold here. Fishing though is different, as we have many coastal towns where sport fishing is a relatively mainstream activity. There is a marked difference between the accessibility of fishing and hunting, as like you said, many urban centers do have decent fishing areas.
One also must keep in mind, that not all suburbs are created equal. If I had tried to take out some squirrels in my neighborhood with a wrist rocket, the neighbors may have had me arrested. It can also be harder to establish decent connections with fishing in areas where what few waters there are available are badly polluted. Cat fishing is of course more fun when you can eat the catfish, but that would be a bad idea if said catfish came from the Charles River.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuck the weasel wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

nehunter92 I agree that it is a huge privilege to be able to explore outdoors related interests as a child. It may not be the life for some people, but it is for me! Where do I live? - I live in southern Michigan, near the bottom center of the mitten. Although I have never lived anywhere else, I'd have to say that us Michiganders are pretty fond of our outdoors. As for the urban vs rural concept, I completely agree. My highschool is at the bottom of the city, so there is a mixture of city folk and country folk respectively. That being said not all country folk practice outdoors-related activities while city folk don't- I am a prime example of that. However I'm sure an angling club in one of the high schools out in the more rural part of my county would have way more participation. I don't think they'd even need one- I know several of these high schools already get opening day for deer season off! (I'm jealous)

In regards to eating the fish I catch, I am confident that the water is pretty pollutant free here. There are plenty of tadpoles and crayfish and other organisms that seem to be doing fine, and I haven't died yet. The only thing we avoid is the river after it travels through the city. The water gets nasty after its trip through the industrial part, and I would rather not risk it. We usually let the fish go, but every summer we'll have a couple of fish frys with perch, bluegill, and catfish out of the clean headwaters of the river, lakes, and ponds.

And for my wrist-rocket squirrel hunting- trust me, I know that all neighborhoods aren't equal, mine is no exception. I have gotten in plenty of trouble with several of the neighbors, who I'm now careful to avoid. They don't care if you have a small game license or that the squirrels are getting into your attic. You just have to apologize for anything they said you did wrong and promise not to do it again, no matter what logic actually exists. But such is the life of a suburban outdoorsman.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jgreg64 wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

I am a teacher on a reservation and each year we try to get the children involved in the many aspects of the outdoors, especially with their heritage. We take them on hiking trips, canoe trips, ricing, and spearing. We have found that making these trips a reward keeps them motivated to go on these trips. Many times its essay based where they have to write about their experience with the outdoors or why they want to experience it. I have also recently began taking one or two students a year who want to learn to hunt and enroll them in hunter safety and make sure that they are able to attend. One of the best parts is seeing them on their first hunts. The excitement is great. I have also found it is the girls that we take who really love going. I think getting both genders involved is very important. I agree that we are giving the children too much freedom. For them to experience the outdoors and learn what something is all they have to do is grab there phone and the answer is there. Now more than ever we need to get youth involved in the outdoors.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment