The Outdoor Way

By Michael Bogden

 Leatherman Tool

When I am Camping, I take a knife. I also take a multi-tool.  They are like Swiss Army Knives on steroids! You have a knife, saw, screwdrivers and various other instruments all contained in a pair of folding pliers. I never know what situation will crop up but my multi-tool makes it easier to take on the challenges of the outdoors.
Knowledge and experiences prepare the youth for life by building their personal multi-tool, their life skills. Our job as adults is to give them the widest range of experiences possible so they are able to successfully cope. Outdoor experiences add essential blades to their personal multi-tool.
I believe that teaching the outdoor way to the next generation gives them the coping skills that they can acquire nowhere else.
Sawtooth Mountain
Time for shared meditation and appreciation of nature is hard to come by in the age of HD TV, computers, text messaging and I-pods. Unplugging the youth from technology is like pulling teeth. Giving them the opportunity to savor the smells, sights and sounds of life is a gift they will cherish. There is something primeval about the sound of an elk screaming during the rut or the howling chorus from a pack of coyotes at dusk. It also gives you time to talk to your son or daughter without distraction and find out how they are doing.
Redfish Lake
Whether you are burying your feet in the white-sand beach of Redfish Lake while captivated by the majestic ruggedness of the Sawtooth Mountains or staring at a campfire while encircled by lodge pole pines with a canopy of stars overhead, you have the opportunity to convey a reverence and hopefulness for life. But to find those moments to share life’s lessons, you have to create the atmosphere. You won’t find the same moment at home on the couch.
Patience and acceptance of delayed gratification are necessary skills that can be learned outdoors. A successful hunting or fishing trip requires preparation, packing and scouting for a location. All the work does not guarantee a successful harvest. I recall watching one of Jared Scott Outdoors’ episodes when he was spring bear hunting. He demonstrated the scouting, baiting and the waiting …. but the bears didn’t cooperate. Alas, no bear. The hunt was a bust when considering the objective of shooting a bear, but you could tell he enjoyed the time in the mountains and he taught an essential life lesson to the audience. Hard work does not guarantee success but not trying guarantees failure. We learn to enjoy the pursuit of a goal, the journey.
Coping with adversity through adaptation is learned in the outdoors. It may be bad weather, loss of equipment or an injury. When you are away from civilization, you have to solve problems with what you have on hand. We went to scout camp this summer at Little Lemhi and were assigned an underused campsite. There were few level spaces and those were covered with dense brush and deadfall. The scouts of troop 154 spent several hours with shovels and a chain saw clearing ground and leveling spots for the tents. It turned out to be one of the nicer and more secluded spots at Scout camp. The effort never seems as difficult from the rearview mirror.
Independence is an essential life skill. Camping and other outdoor activities stretch the proverbial apron strings. Young people, who can cook, stay clean, set up a shelter and stay warm while camping will fare much better as they reach adulthood. Kids should know that dinner is made when they cook it; the dishes are done when they wash them and the bed is made when they make it. This hopefully minimizes the chance that they will be living in your basement when they are 30.
Appreciation of sustenance can be learned through hunting and fishing. When kids only see meat in packages, they do not realize that an animal’s life was taken to provide them with food. Seeing a fish or elk as it is harvested teaches them where meat comes from, imparting the life lesson that wasting meat is wasting an animal’s life.


Organized sports are wonderful additions to a young person’s life experience but an over-commitment to sports leaves no time for camping, scouting and other wilderness activities. Scouting provides another opportunity for parents and grandparents to spend outdoor time with the youth and polish their outdoor skills. There is no better way to teach these skills than to apply them in the presence of the youth. Each one of these life skills is another addition to a child’s multi-tool. Send your child into adulthood with a complete multi-tool, not a single blade! Teach them the outdoor way.


Reprinted with permission from “Getting’ Out” September/October 2010