Friday, January 23, 2009

A Dad's Job

When I was about nine or ten, my Dad had some vacation time that had to be used before the end of summer, but Mom couldn’t take more time off work right then. Usually this kind of situation would mean that Dad would spend his days doing home improvement projects. I don’t remember why, but this time was different.

Every morning during one week late that summer, Dad would load me and my brothers into the family sedan and drive up to Pineview Reservoir. We went to different spots on different days. We’d get our fishing gear out and spend some time fishing from the shore. When the sun rose high enough that it started to feel hot, we’d pack up and go home.

I don’t remember if we ever caught anything. I was certainly hoping to avoid catching a fish on my line. For whatever reason, fishing has never really appealed to me. I never cared to learn the finer points of angling and I never had any desire to clean a fish.

A brother-in-law of mine has been an avid angler. He will fish any time of year, given the chance. He can look at a stream, river, pond, or lake and intrinsically know what kind of fish are in it and what it takes to catch them. If he hangs around such water for very long, an overpowering urge builds up, and he is soon out there with his fishing gear.

I have children than enjoy fishing, but only one of them has much interest in cleaning the fish that are caught. We live near a trout farm. My middle child is spellbound when he watches the workers there clean and fillet fish. He finds fish organs fascinating. He can envision himself working at the fish farm when he’s a couple of years older.

Since my children like to fish on occasion, I actually do sometimes take them fishing. This only happens about once every other year. I probably wouldn’t do it at all, except for that week years ago that Dad took us fishing on summer mornings instead of doing projects around the home.

Hauling a carload of drowsy boys out during the last few days of summer when they could otherwise be sleeping in, only to have them mostly run around and chase each other instead of fishing, making noise enough to scare the fish away, was likely not the most enjoyable thing Dad could have done with his time. But he did it anyway, I assume, because he felt it was important to share that time and experience together.

Tonight I will go winter camping with my 11-year-old son. We will construct a snow shelter and sleep in it. I have done a fair amount of winter survival camping during my life, and this will be yet another episode. The conditions will be messy (and somewhat dangerous) due to the rain. But I know the proper techniques and I have adequate equipment.

Still, I don’t go winter camping for personal enjoyment, as do some of my survivalist acquaintances. I don’t really care to do it. And I wouldn’t do it at all, were it not for children that I think should learn winter survival skills. It is a great adventure for adolescents. They learn that they can survive satisfactorily in conditions that seem quite severe and uninviting. And who better to share those kinds of experiences with than their Dad? These kinds of things can be more peer-oriented when they get a bit older.

I have often told my wife that once my youngest child passes the stage of learning winter camping skills, I’m done with it. Alas, that’s still years away. And despite what I have said, if children other than my own need my help to learn those skills after that, I will still probably find myself going winter camping.


Jim Muller said...

I recently discovered your blog and wanted to bring your attention to a winter camping resource that you might find interesting and worth relaying to your readers -

This not-for-profit web site focuses on winter camping in Upstate NY and the Adirondacks.

There is a comprehensive collection of Winter Camping Articles from varied journals and newspapers.

The discussion of Winter Camping Skills includes an article on How to Get Started Winter Camping, there are special tips on Leave No Trace for Winter Campers, there are Trip Logs and Photos from past adventures, how to build snow shelters, advanced Winter Camping Tips, Winter Camping Recipes and a Winter Camping Video.

Winter Camping Gear includes several gear reviews, a Sample Gear List, a discussion of The Ten Essentials and examples of What’s In My Pack? by different winter campers.
The Lighter Side of Winter Camping includes: a collection of Winter and Wilderness Survival Quizzes, a tongue in cheek Winter Camping Application, Winter Camping Poems, Winter Camping Quotes and the Top Ten List Reasons to Go Winter Camping.
The BLOG has the latest winter camping news, pictures and chatter.

Please give it your consideration.

Scott Hinrichs said...

Thanks, Jim. I just returned from last night's campout. It was the warmest winter overnighter I've ever been on. It rained off and on throughout the night, but we were dry and plenty (maybe too) warm in our shelter.

I appreciate the reference you provided. I usually avoid acting as a conduit for commercial advertising activities on my blog. In fact, I usually delete promotional comments. But I will leave your comment because I believe is a very useful resource for winter campers.