By Mike Tomano
© Fossil Entertainment Group 2018
Summertime used to mean leaving the house at 7a.m. on my Schwinn Stingray. My friends and I rode to the forest preserves to fish and to the prairies to catch snakes. We shot archery, slingshots and bb guns. We built ramps to jump our bikes over “like Evel Knievel.” We went to Mary's Candy Store for a pretzel rod and a Coke. Played Kick The Can, Army and Cowboys & Indians. Went home when the streetlights came on. No one went missing. The parents in the neighborhood knew every kid and watched out for us. If we got hurt, it was Bactine and a Band-Aid. If we got out of line, we'd get an ass-whoopin' from whoever's parent was present. We formed bonds with friends in Kindergarten that have lasted to this day. Brotherhood.
To hell with sounding old…kids today need to get outside and live it up! Electronic devices have their place for fun; but I personally know of too many parents who allow their children to become virtual-reality zombies, locked in a room for hours playing video games or gazing endlessly at a cell phone. Like our parents regulated our television watching, we should curtail our children’s couch potato activities.
There is no healthier way to get a child involved in outdoor activities than to take them to the woods or water for a day of Great Outdoor Adventure. Kids who delve into the perfection of archery & shooting sports, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and boating will find a magic in nature that is shamefully dismissed in today’s society.
My folks encouraged me to seek adventure beyond the pavement. My mother came from rural folks in Tennessee and we spent our summers visiting their family farms during my formative years. I hunted groundhogs on my Aunt LaVerne and Uncle Ferris's farmland and caught crappie in Reelfoot Lake with my Uncle Virgil and Cousin Stevie.
As for my Dad, he made it his mission in life to introduce every member of our family and all of my friends to The Great Outdoor Experience.
If you seek quality family time, a trip to your local sporting goods store is the first step. Invest in a canoe, archery equipment and fishing gear. Pack a cooler and head out to your local forest preserves for a day of fishing, the river for a canoe trip or your local archery range for a day of arrow-flingin'. Join an outdoor recreation club. Shooting skeet with your family will open up a world of fun and teach your children the responsibility of firearm safety and discipline of marksmanship. Biking or hiking on forested trails is good exercise and an easy adventure. Take lots of pictures and learn to identify birds, insects, plants, wild flowers and wildlife.
A child catching his or her first fish is a memory that will last a lifetime. A first hunt is a noble rite of passage, instilling accountability and gratitude. Once the magic of the wild takes hold, it remains a vital part of a person's existence.
Each year, we hold our Annual Troutdog Outdoor Family Adventure Camp at the South Wilmington Sportsmen’s Club. Families are introduced to archery, fishing, gun safety and shooting and canoeing. We start the day by paying honor to my late father, Michael “Troutdog” Tomano and reciting The Pledge of Allegiance. September 2018 marks 13 years since Papa left us, and the eighth year of his namesake charity event. We all wish our parents could live forever. I know the spirits of both of mine are joyfully with us in the woods and on the water.
Troutdog is a labor of deep love. Without the superb organizational skills of my beautiful wife Denise and the outstanding work from our volunteers and sponsors, we couldn’t do it. The feedback has been 100% positive and the messages I’ve received from participants has made my heart and soul soar on the wings of an eagle. Make it a point to join us!
For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org