By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
Like their adult counterparts, kids recall times and places as the foggy backdrop of moments held crystal clear. Bad and good, those moments fill a memory that goes on to define a life.
Sharing the ones to which they’ll return fondly is often a goal of time spent outdoors together.
For Tupelo’s Todd Cary, this subtext was a natural element of the script he and his wife Casey formed for their family, for their boys.
“A lot of people play soccer and baseball, but we decided we like to boat, hunt and fish, so a few years ago we invested in a small cabin at J.P. Coleman State Park,” Cary says. “Last year we were up there 44 weekends. We were up there 42 weekends the year before. We feel like that’s a good way for them to grow up.”
“I like going up there to relax,” Casey says. “The simplicity of life up there is what’s appealing. We’re running wide open working during the week, but we can get in the car and in an hour and 15 minutes we’re in a totally different place, physically and mentally. It’s a different way of life.”
As a child in the Silver Creek community between Brookhaven and Hattiesburg, Todd enjoyed the outdoors as one of life’s given elements, and he wanted to pass that opportunity along to his own children.
“I’m pretty sentimental,” Todd says. “When I’m with my boys (ages 10 and 13), it reminds me of time spent doing that with my dad. It’s amazing how much smarter my dad gets the further I go along. When we’re in the truck heading home and they say, ‘Dad, thanks for taking us hunting,’ that means everything. Seeing the boys group up into men is something special.
“Being in the woods gives unique opportunities to instill values that will pay off for the rest of their lives. Hunting and being at the cabin gives us family time. We eat together, cry together, laugh together. While they’re young, we want to do this with them as much as we can because, as they get older, there’ll be a period of time when they go away from us, at least for a while, but when they do grow up, we want them to come back and spend time outdoors with us again with their own families some day.”
As traditions go, making nature a natural part of life is as good as they get.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.