What are your memories of Christmas as a child?
I don’t remember many Christmas presents I received as a child.
Sure, I remember the X-Wing fighter I got after “The Empire Strikes Back” came out, a BB gun (I didn’t shoot my eye out) and a few other gifts, but in reality, I forget the many, many material gifts those who loved me gave to me.
I do however remember my late uncle Jackie Moore taking his time to build me a large live trap. It touched me that he would spend his time doing that for me.
I also remember my late father Chester Moore, Sr. taking me on my first deer hunt to the Hill Country on a day lease in Llano County when I was 12 years old.
Both of those men spent a lot time with me in the woods and on the water and helped create a deep love for the outdoors that exists to this day.
As we ready for Christmas and many of us struggle with financial issues, we have an opportunity.
The kids in our lives despite how much they might beg for the latest electronic technology really crave time with us. A commitment to spend time and mentor them in the great outdoors could be the definitive event in their young life where you can speak life, blessings and strength into them.
Maybe you are a master duck caller or have a deep knowledge of whitetail behavior. Perhaps you can work a topwater plug better than most or have a real knack for finding redfish in the marsh.
Passing on this knowledge to youngsters is deeply rewarding and can do as much for you as it does for them. Don’t just limit this to kids in your family but think about reaching out to kids in your community.
I have met kids right here in Texas who have never seen a deer or a raccoon or a wild hog. They have never caught a fish or been in a boat.
A few years ago, we held a sleepover for boys at our church and did it with a campout theme. We had a grill setup and roasted weenies and marshmallows. Numerous kids as old as 12 had never done that.
Think about that for a second. There are children in our area that have never done anything related to camping, much less hunting and fishing.
A decade from now, the kid you buy an iPad for won’t remember that, but he or she will remember the day they caught their first redfish or saw their first big buck.
No matter how far society has strayed from that original intent of Christmas based on the birth of Jesus Christ, the idea of giving continues. If you are so inclined, put some meaning behind it this year and bless the kids of your life with the gift of outdoor mentoring this year.
Our family is strengthening our commitment to remind children in our lives the true reason for the season and to enable them to experience great things in our lives. Beyond all, that is our calling.
If we can help you help the kids in your life, get connected in the great outdoors, please contact me. We know there are many single mothers and others out there who don’t always have the resources. Please feel free to reach out. We will be glad to do what we can to come up with ideas about how to impact these families this Christmas.
Think about your early childhood for just a second. You probably thought you could do anything. All things were possible. That’s why when teachers ask kindergarten students what they want to be when they grow up they get BIG answers such as “astronaut.” Kids really do believe they can be what they want to be.
Then at some point an adult comes along and quashes these ideas. They tell the kids no to have big hopes or they will get disappointed—or just flat out tell them they are not good enough to pursue their aspirations. For many this is a crushing defeat that lasts their entire lives and manifests itself in depression, anxiety and a deeply unfulfilled life.
You can do very simple things to help keep kids inspired.
Send them messages periodically about your trips in the great outdoors. Share cool videos and photos about their favorite animals and use your social media to salute them when they do participate in an outdoor event. Get them a subscription to Texas Fish & Game and show them how to use the app for their digital subscription. They can get access to the great outdoors 24-7.
At the end of the day mentorship involves investing time. By simply sharing links and maybe getting them a subscription, you can keep kids inspired between field trips and outreach events.
Kids love to feel as if they are a part of something; and truthfully, they have much to offer. Kids’ hearts are much purer than ours so when you get them involved you get all of them involved—with no hidden agendas.
Think back for a second to those precious memories you have of Christmas.
Maybe it was a new rod and reel or a cool tackle box, but maybe if you’re like me, the best memories are those times spent with people. Gifts are great, but showing your true love during this time of year is far more important.
Whether you are blessing a kid or kid at heart with your time, know that this Christmas, that’s what counts. Christmas is a time when anything seems possible. Good things.
Lead artwork by Alicia Templin;
Inside photos, Chester Moore;
—story by Chester Moore