Time for another op-ed piece.  This time a dissenting opinion. 

Not very eloquent but here goes.

We live in a really-really big country, with lots and lots of open, unpopulated land.

We are blessed to have so much public land available for recreation.

Most everyone understands - ‘the times they are a changing’.

We all know about climate change, air pollution, water pollution, grazing rights, mineral rights, drilling rights, melting glaciers, melting ice, rising sea levels…etc., etc., etc, ad infinitum. 

We are bombarded daily with geo-political strife.

But recreation is what we are lucky to do when we’re not working…or looking at a screen.

Recreation takes us away from strife and rebuilds the human spirit.

For me, that mostly means Outdoor Recreation, specifically, backpacking.  But it could mean, boating, fishing, hunting, bird watching, kayaking, hiking, photography, etc..

Hunting and fishing are as old as the hills, as old as mankind.  We are sort of blessed to be able to get out into nature and find adventure…in the forests, in the mountains. 

Sometimes it appears that the urge to get out into nature, for adventure, is being lost.

Yet it seems everywhere I go, the woods and trails are packed.  Why are folks craving to get into the forest?

Every year, when I’m in Wyoming and preparing to go into the wilderness, I visit the ‘Museum Of The Mountain Man’, which remembers that western spirit, that adventurous time in our country’s past and each and every time I never fail to think that I am blessed to be able to walk on that same ground where those pioneers trod.

Not far away, the rutted tracks of the wagons on the Oregon Trail cross the highways and are still visible to the eyes.  I can’t help but be moved each time I see them and think about that indomitable spirit.

About 35yrs ago, my sons were in scouts and I was an adult leader.  My adult leader training (woodbadge) kind of carried on that adventure spirit.  The scouts still carried on the traditions of western camping, teaching lashings, use of ropes, how to uses axes, bow saws, all the while transitioning to modern camping/mountaineer techniques and especially LNT.  If fact, the literature moved the program away from high impact group camping  and into backpacking.

Fast forward to just 3yrs ago. I volunteered with a local troop, to share my backpacking skills, only to find that troops no longer emphasized camping at all, at least not this troop/district.  If the kids didn’t want to go camping, they didn’t go.  They would rather have organized video gaming.  I couldn’t and still can’t believe it, but it was true.  Of course this is not the norm for the program in total, but I view this little anecdote as a sign of the times. .  IMO, the kids only did what the parents wanted to do or had the skills to do.

I feel kids want and need the adventure of backpacking and getting out into nature.

I think it is part of the human spirit and I hope we don’t lose that spirit.

I also believe that having a campfire, building a fire, sitting around a fire, cooking on a fire, (sharing adult beverages around a fire) somehow touches on that indefinable part of the human spirit of adventure.

I think it is almost an innate part of the human spirit, I don’t know why, and can’t explain it, but man and fire have been together since time immemorial.

Can we have adventure without campfires?  Sure we can.  Campfires are managed pretty good IMO…’only in existing fire rings, not above 10,000’, not in posted times of fire danger, permits, etc.. These restrictions are very reasonable and understandable.

But in my view, when and if we ever got to the point of a total ban, something in our souls will be lost.

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes