How do we get kids outdoors?

When I was a kid, we lived outdoors. The deep woods behind my house was my playground. And I was fishing and hunting at a very young age.

Today, lots of kids don’t spend any time outside. That’s sad. There are groups working to get kids outdoors, but it also takes parents to make that work. Don Kleiner, leader of the Maine Guides Association, recently attended a conference on this issue, and wrote the following report.

If you have any suggestions, please share them with us.

Submitted by Don Kleiner on Wed Oct 25, 2006

I have been at a two-day meeting where one of the topics was how do we recruit more kids into outdoor activities specifically hunting and fishing. More importantly how do we get them to develop a conservation ethic? The future of wildlife conservation is very much in question as the numbers of hunters and fisherman face precipitous decline. Because much if not all of the funding for wildlife conservation comes from hunters and fisherman and there is not a young cohort in line to replace the aging population something will have to be done very quickly.

There are a number of good programs but I wonder if we are not adapting to their world and consequently are missing in the conversation. They are digital natives and most of the folks in the room with me were analog or digital transplants like me. I wonder what part of the conversation we are missing completely.

How do we learn to speak in their language and develop products that they will connect with? This is a most basic customer question and how does the conservation community change to deliver in this situation? It seems so far like the conversation is mostly about making more customers like the ones we have and not about adapting to meet the customers that are now in the marketplace.





George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.