Nothing warms my heart more than when I have the opportunity to watch a child’s smile grow as they discover the great outdoors. This past weekend, I had that opportunity when I attended the 11th Annual Oregon Youth Outdoor Day at E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area with my family, together with the families of 750 other children.
For $5.00 a person, participants were allowed to wander from station to station and learn about a variety of outdoor activities, including: shooting sporting clays, archery, rock wall climbing, predator calling, waterfowl calling, wood duck box construction, birdhouse and bird feeder construction, fishing, casting, GPS use, duck decoy paining, elk calling, laser BB shooting, wilderness survival, dog training, fly tying and fly casting, amongst many other outdoor activities.
Although the event is geared toward first-timers, it was a the perfect refresher for the experienced outdoors kid, as well.
Registration provides a day full of fun for each youth, a backpack to carry all their gear, a t-shirt, and lunch. In all my years of outdoors education, I have yet to find another event that offers so much bang for the buck. ($5.00 also bought lunch for mom and dad, too).
I want to send a special thank you to all the volunteers, sponsors, and contributors who made this event possible, including:
- Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation
- Oregon Fish and Wildlife
- Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
- Friends of the NRA
- Oregon Hunters Association
- Sportsman’s Warehouse
- Oregon Duck Hunters Association
- Wild Sheep Foundation
- Hopp Insurance
- J’s Fish & Chips, Lincoln City, Ore
- Lancaster Village
- Oregon Trappers Association
- Safari Club International
- Santiam Flycasters/North Santiam Spey Casters
- Delta Waterfowl
- Duckmasters Labs
- Ducks Unlimited
- Northwest Steelheaders
- NW Liberty Reptiles
- National Wildlife Refuges
- Oregon State Marine Board
- Oregon State Police
- South Salem High School Environmental Club
- Yamhill County Search and Rescue
Without the collaborative efforts of these organizations, the future of our hunting and fishing sports would be in jeopardy. It is imperative that we continue to work together to expose children to the great outdoors.
Our family has already set the goal of bringing someone new to the event next year, someone who has never experienced what it is like to catch a fish, shoot a gun, or launch an arrow at a target.
Who do you have in your life who should be introduced to the outdoors? Have you taken the time to do so? Next time you head out to your favorite lake to cast a line, or up to the mountain to scout, take a first-timer with you and open their eyes to a whole new world!