It’s Good Practice

Steven Rinella began taking his kids hunting and fishing as soon as they were old enough to hold a rifle or a rod. Why? Well, for starters, because it’s his job (as an outdoorsman and author) and he, like all parents, tries to find ways to balance work and life. But the other reason is because there are all sorts of lessons to be learned from these disciplines.

“One of the beauties of hunting and fishing,” Rinella writes in his book Outdoor Kids in an Inside World, “is that they force kids to reckon with failure and to struggle against their own impatience.”

Being cold and wet. Being bored. Being tired. Being quiet. Screwing up (as the Jimmy Carter story we told recently illustrated). These things are difficult for a kid.

Making hard decisions. Facing life and death. Doing everything right and coming up empty. These things are difficult for anyone..

In short, it’s all practice. Now certainly, you’re free to have your own ethical objections to hunting or fishing or both. But this only means you’ll have to be more creative: What activities are you finding for them–what activities are you doing together–that challenge them in this fashion? That force them to reckon with failure and impatience as Rinella discussed?

Because life will demand these skills from them on a daily basis. Will they have put in the practice necessary to apply them when it counts?

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