There are moments in our lives that resonate as vividly in our memories as the day we experienced them. Truly impactful moments instill within us the scents, the sounds, and the physical sensations that we can still take in when we close our eyes and think back to the day those moments occurred. Out first day of school, a first kiss, graduation; they all stick in our minds and hour hearts for the rest of our lives, and for outdoorsmen, the first camping trip, the first keeper fish, or our first trophy buck are moments of sentiment as well.
I’ll never forget my first real camping trip. My family headed to Muskegon to stay at a campground near the lake, nestled right against the sand dunes, and it was a great time. Fires every night, exploring the surrounding wilderness during the day (as only kids can), walking along the beach one evening with my dad and picking up sea glass and driftwood while we spotted dear among the dunes, and watching as animals and other facets of nature presented themselves to me in their natural environment was an experience I’ll never forget. Anyone who enjoys camping as an adult does so today because of a similar experience. When you’re young, and everything is so new and exciting, something as incredible as camping presents us with amazing sights and sounds that become cemented in ourselves, and we yearn to experience it further as we grow, and even share it with our own children when the time comes.
I’ve discussed bonding with children on the water before, but if you think back to when you were a child, and caught your first fish on your first trip with Dad or Grandpa, you’ll know why taking a child fishing is such a great opportunity. Not only will the first trip be that child’s first taste of such a fun and challenging activity, but the bonds that are forged when people share in that moment are some of the strongest ever. It’s also that first taste of fishing that causes many children to get hooked on it (pun intended).
I’m positive that every outdoorsman can recall, lucidly, their first moments with the sports they enjoy today, and it is that memory that we all look to and feel overwhelm ourselves each and every time we head out the front door into America’s wilderness. I know that each time I pull in a big bass or take those first steps onto a trail, my mind recalls the first time I experienced both and I’m filled with such excitement and pride in the fact that something so amazing is a part of my life.
The next time you head outdoors, I urge you to take a moment and really think about the first fish, the first buck, the first trailhead, the first river—the first time you breathed deeply and took in the essence of America’s untouched, majestic wilds, and relive that moment in the present. Go into each trip with the same wonder and eagerness as you did as a child and if you’re fortunate enough to share the outdoors with your own children, do all you can to help them share in the love for nature that we all possess.