James Murray tells a story for a small crowd at the ORL Salmon Arm branch on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Column: Give the gift of an outdoor experience

Sharing time and experience outdoors priceless

By James Murray, Observer contributor

Commitment is not a word that springs to mind immediately when compiling a Christmas shopping list. Certainly not as much as the word spending. But, when you combine those two words with the word time, you have the potential for very some interesting gift ideas. Spending time rather than money opens up a whole new level of gift giving.

I am reminded of one particular Christmas when we were young children. I’m talking about over 60 years ago. My father got up in the middle of the night on Christmas eve and made a skating rink out in the back yard. He must have spent hours out there in the freezing cold just to surprise us in the morning. Every kid in the neighbourhood use to come over and skate on that rink. He also spent time taking my brothers and I fishing. I remember few of the fish I ever caught on those fishing trips but I do remember with great fondness all the time we spent together.

So this Christmas why not make a commitment to spend time with someone participating in an outdoor activity.

Programs like Learn to Fish, Angling Ambassadors, Fishing Buddies and Fishing in the City, all sponsored by the FreshWater Fisheries Society of British Columbia, are ways for families with children to get introduced to the sport of fishing. They are also ways for seasoned anglers to pass along their knowledge of fishing to someone new. Simply make a promise, a commitment to introduce a child, friend, relative, neighbour or perfect stranger to fishing.

There are all sorts of other mentorship programs for activities such as cross-country skiing, kayaking, bird watching and pretty well any outdoor activity that you can think of – even if not formally organized.

Committing to give of your time and knowledge to help someone learn about the great outdoors and enjoy taking part in outdoor activities is a very worthwhile gift. One that I’m sure will ultimately be greatly appreciated for many years to come.

Go online or contact a member of a group/organization such as the FreshWater Fisheries Society of British Columbia, the Shuswap Association for Rowing and Paddling, Salmon Arm Fish and Game Club/Chase Rod and Gun Club or Larch Hills Nordic Society. There is even a loosely knit local group that is into gold panning who are more than eager to introduce neophyte panniers to the art of searching for colour.

Learning to experience the great outdoors together and spending time together participating in an outdoor activity not only creates memories that will be long cherished but also creates helps create a respect for nature. What greater gift can one give than to hand over the tools that will allow a younger generation become the caretakers and guardians of the environment. Not everyone is into fishing, the same way that not everyone is into mountain climbing or waterskiing, but there are enough different ways to spend time with family and friends to make sharing that time together more than worthwhile. The trick is to make the commitment to spend the time.

Whether taking part in a formal mentorship program or taking it upon yourself to mentor someone by passing along your particular knowledge and skills, the end result is a gift that opens up all sort of new opportunities for both yourself and the intended recipient of your gift.

Never underestimate the value of both your time and your skills. I learned to fish because my father took the time – and showed the patience – to teach me how cast a line.

Because of his commitment I also gained an appreciation for being in the outdoors and a respect for the environment, and as arson of that, I have spend the last 40 plus years writing about the outdoors and subsequently passing along what little knowledge and skills I posses.

My point being is that because my father took the time to show me I have spend the better part of my adult life trying to show others, because he made a commitment to spend the time to teach me how to fish I have been able to keep his memory alive with the Annual Salmon Arm Kid’s Fishing Derby which I started 23 years ago in his memory. How many kids have taken part in that derby I do not know but it does make me proud to be a part of it.

All I know for sure is that the simple gift of the giving of your time is worth far more than you might ever imagine … especially to the recipient of that gift.

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