“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.”
Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder
It is easy to complain. We all have a tendency to fall in to the “should” trap, especially when it comes to kids.
“Kids should turn off the TV and go play outside.”
“Kids should learn to respect nature.”
On and on it goes. Should traps.
Locally, the 13 member Hunters Helping Kids – Blue Ridge Chapter aren’t falling into those traps. They have committed to exposing kids and their parents to the natural beauty of Alleghany and surrounding counties. While hunting and fishing may seem to be the chapter’s focus, John Davis, points out that just getting kids outdoors where they can learn to appreciate nature is their primary motivation.
John considers himself fortunate to have grown up in Alleghany County and to have had someone who taught him to hunt and fish. Because of that he feels an obligation to pass his passion for the outdoors on to the next generation of sportsmen.
In addition to being president of the local chapter, John serves on the national board of directors for Hunters Helping Kids. His national position led to Alleghany County hosting the Ultimate Kids Hunt. This hunt is open to five boys and five girls between the ages of 10 and 15. In addition, at least one special needs child is selected. The young hunters are given a rifle, camouflage clothing, boots and other accessories. They must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The Alleghany Inn supports the hunt and assists with housing the hunters and their parents. Kids from across the eastern United States have attended this hunt.
John points out that the local chapter has one fundraiser, a banquet, each year. Each local chapter of Hunters Helping Kids keeps at least 50% of their funds to use for local projects (the other 50% covers insurance and administrative expenses). The Blue Ridge Chapter has used their funds to buy youth bows and targets to introduce kids to archery, sponsored two $1000 scholarships to a male and female Alleghany High School student, supported a youth hunt for Alleghany County kids, and will offer an all-girls hunt this fall in neighboring Ashe County.
On June 11, 2016 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, the Blue Ridge Chapter will host a free fishing event behind the Cherry Lane Community building on Hwy 21 South. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) will stock trout in Brush Creek for this event. The NCWRC has also waived license requirements for adults who are assisting the kids. In addition to fishing, the event will include a mobile pellet rifle range supervised by local wildlife officers and the archery equipment purchased with banquet funds. A drawing for a lifetime hunting and fishing license will be held for the participating kids. Last year, 65 young anglers participated and there is hope for an even higher number this year. This one of 35 similar events held across North Carolina as part of National Fishing and Boating Week.
Some question exposing kids to hunting and fishing. John has been asked that question many times. He views it as an opportunity to explain the role of hunting and fishing in the conservation of wildlife resources, and to describe how hunters and anglers were the first wildlife conservationists. Most importantly, the chapter members are well aware that there is more to fishing than catching fish. Luther Standing Bear (1868-1939) may have summed it up best when he said, “Man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; [the Lakota] knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.”
On June 11th, a group of Alleghany County conservationists will set out to soften kids’ hearts and deepen their respect for the natural world. They encourage anyone with children to bring them to this event.
For more information contact:
John Davis 336-657-0801
Sebrina Davis 336-657-7137
Ricky Higgins 276-233-5359