One of the things I really enjoy about going to camp on the weekends in the fall is seeing some of the young folks that accompany their dads to their respective camps. It brings a smile to my face to watch these kids test their wings while they learn about being outdoors. While most of the camps in our area don’t have many of the modern conveniences, they will keep you warm, fed and have a dry place for you to sleep. Those are all good things in my book.
Being at camp gives these young folks a chance to really be exposed to the pluses and minuses of life. If you are learning to fish or hunt, you learn quickly why it’s called fishing and hunting, not catching or harvesting. You can spend many hours trying your best to put meat in the freezer only to go home empty-handed.
They also learn responsibility very quickly. From helping with the dishes to sweeping the floor to fetching your dad an adult beverage as well as learning how to clean what game does get harvested and making wood so the camp can keep you warm at night no matter what the temp ends up being. These lessons may not directly help anyone, but they do help shape young lives that have always needed direction.
A lot can be learned from the conversation taking place as well when the adults get together. Usually centered around sports whether local, state or national, there may also be a hint of local events and maybe even a little gossip every now and again. I always enjoy when the conversation focuses on the young folks and they are asked about school and teachers and favorite classes. That usually also changes the conversation to what it was like when the adults in the room were in school when we all had to walk 2 miles to school and it was uphill both ways. I smile when I see the eyes roll back in the heads of the youngsters who know better.
I am afraid not everyone is getting the benefit of this kind of education and it does show in some areas. I recently read an article in the Washington Post about how the 2016 election could cause 25 percent of college students to develop PTSD. I am sorry, but I can’t get my head around this. A number of the comments made a point that living in a world dominated by cell phones, participation trophies and social media doesn’t help folks understand the realities of life. There are winners and losers as well as good days and bad. I appreciate passion as much (or more) than many folks, but even as a passionate person I know not all of my wishes will come true, no matter how bad I want them to or how much I work for it. Nothing can change that as long as there are differences of opinion and more than one team competing. The sooner we all learn that the less stress will be felt when your side doesn’t prevail. Maybe we all need to disconnect from our comfortable technologically advanced lives and go cut some firewood … or at least catch up with our neighbors and listen to what their thoughts are. We may all learn something.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate livin’ amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.