Burke White, “Touching Nature … in Order to Protect It”
April 23 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
I am a firm believer that exposing people to a valuable outdoor experience is the first step in a long-term plan to save our natural environment. The big challenge is how to inspire the next generation to head outside. Constantly plugged-in to a mobile device and hyper-stimulated with endless data, the average task-oriented millennial is not naturally drawn to beautiful places with limited cell coverage and baristas.
The tutors, team-sports and technology of today’s generation are far different from the mentors, mountain camps and matériel of our youth. The times have changed and so must we, if we want to inspire the next generation to explore nature within their comfort zone. We must stop selling “base camp” on Everest and start selling car camp on “Everycrest” by making outside simple, digestible and inviting to all. Only then might we take a small percentage to the next level.
It comes down to a task. Ask a child to go hike to the top of a hill and they might ask, “Why?” “Fresh air, exercise and beautiful scenery” might be the adult responses, but none is a task. Ask a child to go fly a kite and you’ve got a kid hiking to the top of a hill in no time. Of course, there are many worthy tasks, but one inspiring task often overlooked is fly fishing.
For over twenty-five years, I’ve had the privilege of working in the fly fishing industry. I hope by now I’d be considered an expert in the field. I’ve fished a good part of the world and I’m very intimate with every brand, series and model of product available. However, I’ve come to one important conclusion from my vast fly tour. Most of my experience and knowledge is meaningless to the beginner, and the beginner is the most important customer to a specialty sport and its environment.
Ironically, the specialty fly shops, sport-specific magazines and websites are the barriers to entering the sport of fly fishing. It’s near impossible for a fly shop or website to service the avid angler with a vast selection of complex products and information and still flop down a comforting welcome mat for the beginner. Add to this confusion far too many choices and very few (if any) responsible solutions when it comes to gear and most will shy away.