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TALKING TROUT: Give gift of outdoors for Christmas

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TU Toys for Tots drive

Jodie Fincher, a volunteer with the Coosa Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, stands with the donation box for the group's Toys for Tots drive. (Contributed photo)

At a recent meeting of the Coosa Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited a motion was made to take donations and buy some fishing gear to take to Toys for Tots. The motion passed without a hitch and approximately $250 was raised and earmarked for fishing equipment.

The donation box was left at the Rome-Floyd County ECO Center and additional items were added by some unknown Santa’s Helpers. The items were delivered to Toys for Tots last weekend and we hope to see some happy kids with a rod in their hands soon.

When I was a child I grew up in an outdoor-oriented family. In the 1950s and even into the early 1980s, hand-held electronic games were unheard of. There were few games on a phone until about 2000. Back in the ’50s and ’60s many kids grew up like I did with their own fishing pole, a BB gun, and enjoyed playing cowboys and Indians, and many times we would play soldiers and would pretend to get killed.

Heaven help the kid that runs outside with a toy machine gun today and shouts that he will shoot his best friend with it. No telling what would happen if it is seen by a policeman or a nosey neighbor. The kid might wind up in a mental program and the parents might be in jail. The world has changed in many ways, and not necessarily for the best.

Recent reports in the news have revealed that more kids than ever are being diagnosed with depression. Most, if not all, of those kids spend more time with their hands on a smartphone playing games or texting their friends than going outside to enjoy nature.

Even some of the founding fathers of Facebook have stated that the original plan was to invent something that would essentially get the user “hooked” to their computers and cellphones. Kids can actually be in the same room and will text each other and not talk. Ask most any pre-teen or teenager to stay off the phone or computer and to talk to someone instead of messaging them and you are probably in for a fight.

We at TU want the children to grow up enjoying the outdoors away from their phone. We hope that kids will learn about nature and develop a love for being outside away from technology.

Parents need to remember their childhood and take their kids fishing, hunting, canoeing, bird watching or just take them on a walk in the woods. The fresh air will do everyone involved a lot of good and the kids might find out that thumbs can be used for something other than pressing buttons on a phone. A thumb can be used to hold a fishing rod or a bow and arrow or used to pick up wood for a campfire.

Winter is not the best time to go fishing, but it can be a great time to be outdoors. Winter can be more pleasant than summer in several ways. The biting and stinging insects as well as dangerous snakes are not around in the winter, and even the threat of poison oak is almost nonexistent.

The woods are often leafless and spotting wildlife is much easier. The creeks can run very clear, making spotting fish much easier and, if you dress correctly, you can be warm and toasty.

Folks, take my advice and get your child some outdoor gear for Christmas. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but make sure it has some quality and will not break on first use. Fishing, hunting, bird watching, hiking and camping do not require a team to get involved. A kid does not have to be on a team to fish, but you as an adult need to team up with your child and teach him or her about the outdoors.

TU Christmas Party

The Coosa Valley chapter will have its annual Christmas party Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Rome-Floyd County River Education ECO Center. The meal will be catered. Dinner is $15 per person. Anyone wanting to participate in “dirty Santa” should bring a wrapped present valued near $20. The party is open to members, spouses and guests. Merry Christmas to all from TU.