Where did YOU learn....

The article below by Jim Shepard first appeared in the Outdoor Wire on Monday, June 18, 2018. I am reposting it here with permission from Mr. Shepard.

Where Did YOU Learn….
This might be the thought I should have offered before, instead of following Father’s Day 2018, but the thought didn’t really take form until after I’d read my Father’s Day cards, laughed (and suffered a little eye sweat) at the thoughts expressed in them by my daughters (and granddaughter).

It didn’t hurt that the Sunday sermon was “Ten Things I learned From My Father” - because it really helped clarify what I’ve been kicking around in the back of my mind for several days.

Today, the numbers of outdoor enthusiasts- whether you count traditional outdoor activities or the newer, more-extreme versions, are dwindling. And the collective industry continues to wonder how to best connect with the disconnected youth of today. How do you pull them away from 4K video to the profoundly more impactful analog version of the world.

I’ve even made the observation that we have a disconnect because today’s generation is binary- they are on/off with no levels in between. That’s a possible explanation, but I think there’s something else in play as well.

They aren’t really disconnected from the world, they’re actually hyper-connected to a virtual world. Not the world of video games, but the world of ideas and concepts. And that’s where we’re having our relational issues.

If you’re my age, you know exactly where you learned your world view and values. At the feet of fathers, uncles, grandfathers and their friends. People for whom the word “freedom” had a definite set of values - the values many of them had fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam to preserve. To them “freedom” meant one thing: the United States of America.

And that national pride, their love for and willingness to sacrifice for the nation and its customs, was ingrained in us by the time we spent learning about “the rest of the world” from them as well. They taught us to hunt, fish, pitch, catch, run, slide, shoot, and play fair. They also taught us there was a discipline in what we did.

You know what I mean if you know you don’t work until quitting time- you work until you’re finished. You know that saying yes to someone means you’ve given your word just as much as if you’d signed a contract. You also know that saying no to a friend isn’t easy, but it’s sometime the only right answer for either of you.

Today, more kids than I can imagine are growing up in one-parent families.

And that handicaps the child- and their parent-more than you can imagine.

These parents don’t have someone to share the privilege- and burden- of child-rearing. It’s up to them to pay the mortgage, stock the pantry, help with homework and get the important work project finished on time. If they don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

For me, that was a startling realization. It’s hard enough to be a parent with a partner. I really don’t think I could have done it alone. And there are gaps that a single parent just can’t fill.

Because of those gaps, too-many children today are learning from the virtual world. And that world, I’m sad to say, is a tough place if you’re hoping to find positive role models.

Instead, these kids are bombarded with social media that glorifies money more than morals, applauds success at any cost, and teaches them that true freedom comes when you have a government that takes care of your needs.

These kids have a difficult time relating to my idea of freedom- because they see self-reliance as a sucker play.

Why work hard when you have programs that will help you out? What’s the payoff, they ask?

Why would you work a “regular” job when you can be a sport/music/movie star and have it all?

After spending a Father’s Day celebrating the fact that I’ve been blessed with a better-qualified partner in the privilege of raising two daughters, I had the thought that maybe my fatherly obligations might extend beyond our grandchildren.

Maybe it was time for me to take a look at being a “grandfather to the fatherless”- you know, to see if there weren’t something I could do that would take some of the parenting weight off just one single parent.

There are plenty of programs in place that try to help….maybe it’s time for me to get off the sidelines as an encourager and get involved as a helper. It may well be that all we need to help get this generation involved in “our world” is as simple as inviting them along.

Just a thought.

—Jim Shepherd

There are lots of options for us to get involved. There are faith-based mentoring organizations. There is Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors. I do believe that it is as simple as inviting them along. Become an Outdoor Mentor today!