© By Othmar Vohringer
According to a new outdoor recreation activity survey released by “The Outdoor Foundation®” youth participation in outdoor activity is in decline following a promising growth in participation in 2008.
The survey included 114 different outdoor activities capturing responses from over 40,000 youth aged six and older. This was the largest survey ever done on youth outdoor activity participation. According to the survey some reasons for the drop are the beginning of adjustments in American lifestyles brought about by a challenging economy, shifting demographics and changing times.
Youth, so the surveys finds, spend more time indoors. The outdoor participation of youth aged 6 to 17 dropped 16.7 percent. The biggest drop was noted among the youngest ( 6 to 12 ) that fell a staggering nine percent. There is a wide gap between ethnic groups in the outdoor participation. Caucasians are more active in the outdoors than any other ethnic groups while African Americans are the lowest ranking.
The report of the survey is critical for the Outdoor Foundation’s development of strategies to promote outdoor activity and get youth.
Among the long list of activities that are loosing favour with youth is hunting. Hunting shows the biggest loss and that to me is troubling.
For years hunting is loosing participants. This is due in part to the baby boomers retiring and not enough youth entering. While we have been very successful at recruiting women, the largest growing hunting segment into our ranks we’re still loosing more hunters than we gain.
To be perfectly frank, if hunters were an animal species we would be on the endangered species list. Organizations would organize fundraisers on our behalf and the governments would implement laws for our protection. Since we’re not an animal species we have to think of ways to attract more new and young hunters. Since, as the survey shows, young people spend more time indoors and on the computers we, the outdoor bloggers, may be able to reach these young people via the computer screen.
How about writing about a young hunter, highlighting the fun and excitement hunting can be for the novice and the guide? It is common for a hunter to bring his or her children into hunting. What about the children or adults that do not have hunter parents, friends or relatives? From personal experience I know that there are a fairly large number of youth and adults that would like to become hunters if they only could find someone that shows then how to get started or is available with advice when needed.
If we want to recruit more hunters we need to think outside the box and beyond our immediate family. Extend the recruitment of hunters to your friends at work and to those of your children. Write about the experiences on your blogs. If young people read about other youth, through your blogs, they might give hunting serious consideration. How well that can work became clear to me a few weeks ago. A young man contacted me after reading through my blog and asked me advice on hunting. We began to communicate by phone and email for several weeks and the other day I got a phone call from that young man telling me that he just shot a big ten-point buck. (The full story of that event will soon be posted on my Whitetail Deer Passion blog.)
This young man was a novice hunter with no hunting background in his family so he could not ask his parents, siblings or relatives for advice on how to hunt. But what really disturbed me was the fact that even fellow hunters seemed to have no time for him when he approached them. Finally, before giving up hunting, he thought that he would take a chance and phone me, a complete stranger, because he read on my blog about my dedication to helping new hunters. The young hunter made his mind up that if I would turn him down too he would give up hunting. But because I blogged about the importance of helping new hunters we gained a hunter.
It doesn’t matter what outdoors activity niche you cover with your blog because the blog can function as a tool to recruit young people back into the outdoors. Show the youth through your words that the outdoors is a great place to have fun, excitement and thrills and it is also a place to celebrate their achievements.
For more information on my efforts to promote hunting to young and new generation of hunters visit my website. Othmar Vohringer Outdoors
Tags: Youth Outdoor Participation in Decline, The Outdoor Foundation, Promoting Hunting