By Matthew Stoffel

“Your bobber is down! Reel it in, reel it in!”

There’s not a lot as exciting as watching a kid reel in their first fish. Here are a handful of the many great reasons to cast out on the water with a kid.

1) Sitting on a quiet shore or a gently rocking boat is an excellent way to introduce children to the value of patience. Father and son with fish the outdoor campusThe lesson can be priceless since there’s no guarantee of reward – and for that reason, all the more exciting when they set the hook.

2) It can be hard to find the time to unplug from cell phones, TV, video games and social media, but planning a fishing trip requires exactly that. With your attention on the water, you give yourselves the time to focus on each other.

3) The sense of accomplishment that a kid can get from catching their first fish – or their second, third, or 18th – is wonderful to witness, and it encourages them to set goals for bigger or different fish, striving to accomplish those as well.

Girl with worm the outdoor campus4) You haven’t felt fear until you watch a youngster wildly swing a sharp hook overhead. Fishing is a great opportunity for kids to learn personal responsibility, and to be aware of what’s around them. In addition to teaching them fishing and water safety, you can give them their own task like grabbing minnows or keeping track of life jackets – and maybe do yourself a favor by pressing down the barb on their hook. Just in case.

5) Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you not only feed him for a lifetime, but you create one more person who cares about our South Dakota outdoors. The beginning anglers and hunters of today are going to be our conservationists down the road, so get them out there and share the joy of being out on the water. Our trees, our prairies, our lakes and our rivers will thank you.

Netting fish smiles the outdoor campus

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