by Jeff Woleslagle
Most folks who enjoy outdoor pursuits can think back to a single memory that was the spark that started it all. That first trip on a river or lake in a kayak or canoe perhaps, seeing all the wildlife and the stunning reflections on the water, started a lifelong passion for paddling. Attached to that memory is the person or people that shared that experience with you and made it possible.
For me, that moment came at Canoe Creek State Park. The park was relatively new at the time, and I sat on the bank between my mom and dad on a sunny spring day hoping the fish would bite. Hope was rewarded. I remember reeling like crazy when the fish hit and when it came to the net I was mystified by the gorgeous coloration on the big brown trout. It started a pursuit that borders on obsession and even steered my college and career choices many years later. I guess a lot more took place that afternoon than just the catching of a trout and my folks certainly served as my mentors.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to mentor many people in various outdoor activities and I can’t think of anything more rewarding. Not everyone has an immediate family member who can show them the ropes, and you can be the person who ignites that interest for someone else.
Tomorrow is the Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day, a great opportunity to share time along the water with a young person and get them interested in angling. You can find more information, which includes the requirements and places to fish at this link: https://www.fishandboat.com/Fishing/Regulations/Pages/Mentored-Youth-Program.aspx.
Of course, you really don’t need a special day to be a mentor. Any day is a great day to introduce someone to an outdoor pursuit and share all that our great state has to offer. Be that spark for someone else. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.
Forest Fridays are published weekly by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry.