- As responsible sportsmen, we need to share our outdoor skills with more kids
- As Christians, we need to consider our choices in order to bring kids closer to life through the outdoors
- As neighbors to each other, let’s take the extra time to help kids find fun away from electronics and TV
By Larry Whiteley
Our kids today are growing up in a broken world.
All you have to do is turn on the TV and watch the news to know that. When all they talk about is shootings, rapes, drug busts and crooked politicians, it’s depressing.
It’s the same for newspapers.
Most TV shows and movies aren’t worth watching for kids or adults. The majority are filled with sex, drugs, and killing. Take time to watch some of the electronic games kids are playing today. They get points and win by how many people they shoot. Some of the things on the internet and all the other social media aren’t much better. Guns get the blame for all the shootings in America, but where do they think people develop those ideas from?
One of the reasons kids are caught up in our electronics world is they are not actively involved in the great outdoors. Their parents are too busy trying to make a living or the kids are growing up in single-parent families.
There is no one to help them discover the thrill of a fish tugging at their line, to know what it’s like seeing a deer sneak through the woods, to paddle a canoe across a lake or just sit around a campfire watching the flames dance and flicker. More importantly, they are growing up not knowing who created it for all for us to enjoy.
There is hope though. Cross Trail Outfitters (CTO) is working to change all that. They are providing opportunities to get kids outdoors and away from all the electronics and online diversions. CTO teaches them about our American hunting and fishing heritage, while at the same time sharing their faith. That is a combination that can change kids’ lives for the better.
“We want kids to know that life is different than what they see on TV, in the movies or on video games,” stated CTO Missouri State Director Kirk Bouse. “There’s a wonderful life out there in God’s creation and we strive to guide the next generation to Christ through the outdoors.”
CTO is an independent, inter-denominational ministry primarily for boys ages 7-20, offering a wide range of year-round outdoor activities. There are also opportunities for families and girls to participate in such outdoor endeavors, depending on the outfitter and volunteers available within a chapter. “CTO is about building relationships,” Bouse continued. “We teach, mentor and disciple kids through life circumstances while also working at preserving our hunting and fishing heritage.”
They continually offer hunting and fishing opportunities of all kinds, skills training sessions, fun shoots, community service projects, summer camps and a whole lot more. CTO Summer Camps are the ultimate adventure. Can you imagine a week of pure fun activities for these kids like learning to accurately shoot a rifle or bow, hunting or catching big fish? All CTO summer camps feature hands-on, in-the-field instruction from a wide range of outdoor experts. They learn all kinds of outdoor skills through meaningful lessons, they learn Bible truths and they have campfire discussions about life and our Creator.
So, have I got your interest in CTO? The first thing you need to do is go to www.teamcto.org and contact a chapter near you to get your child or grandchild involved.
There are currently CTO chapters and events in Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky, Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Start by contacting your local outfitter. If there’s not a local outfitter, contact the state director. They will get you specific information on getting involved. Sign-up for a chapter or e-newsletter to receive updates about upcoming events and activities where you live (pick a state). Many of the chapters have a Facebook page and you can find links to their events by going to the local chapter’s page on the Facebook site.
If there is not a chapter near you, CTO will be glad to talk with you about starting one and train you on hos to do it. It’s a great project for churches and civic groups, as well. Bouse said, “My calling in life is to change lives by sharing the love of Jesus Christ through Cross Trail Outfitters and the great outdoors.” It could be your calling too.
There are many opportunities for you to get involved in chapters. You can participate in regular CTO events like Sportsmen’s Night, Family Night, summer camps and a variety of outdoor outings as well as community projects. Once involved, you might work directly with the kids as a Host Guide. You could serve on the prayer, fundraising or communications teams. If you love hunting and fishing or even if you don’t, but you love the Lord, there is no better place to serve.
Without the support of good people who are willing to donate time or help with financial assistance – it all adds up, CTO may not continue its mission. They never turn a child away due to financial limitations. That’s only possible through donations from all of us. I can’t think of a better tax deduction.
If you are a landowner there is another way you can help. To conduct weekend outings or camps, CTO works with landowners who are willing to provide their land for activities that may include hunting, fishing, and other outdoor events.
May the words of this mom touch your heart and get you or your kids, or both, involved with CTO. The mom, Heather, said to me, “If you are considering CTO, absolutely do it! Kids can never have too many Godly men mentoring and guiding them. If you are a man who loves the Lord, who is equipped to help, then ABSOLUTELY do it! Those gifts of yours are meant to be shared. You WILL make a difference… a real difference…in lives. There are so many boys who are lacking solid men in their lives and you could be the one who changed the course. Even if it’s just one.”
Can you possibly imagine what could happen in this broken world with our nation’s kids if CTO was available to them all across America?
It could change the lives of our kids.
It could change the lives of a lot of us adults.
It could change the world.