The Next Generation BY: T. J. Shea

I remember standing at the front door. It was 6am, my dad was loading his truck for a day of fishing and scuba diving, and all I wanted was to be sitting in that passenger seat next to him on my way to experience all the sea had to offer. Now, as a father, I wish my kids viewed the world with the same lens I did as a kid. I wish that passion had been passed to them through my genes, no different than the color of their hair or eyes. 

But, we all know that is not how it always works. Our kids are a product of their environment and technology is everywhere–computers, smart phones and tablets. They are bombarded in every direction, whether at home or in school. Thankfully, the influence of their parents or families can help shape them in a way technology cannot.

My kids are probably similar to yours. Eyes glued to TikTok or online gaming. So, now that school is out and Summer is here, it’s our job as parents to make sure they experience what is outside their front door. And, that might not be easy. Colin, my son, won’t be eagerly waiting for me to roll out of bed with the poles loaded in the back of the truck. If we are planning on diving, my daughter Addisen won’t be heading out into the garage to give her gear a good once-over, making sure everything is working properly. Instead, it’s probably going to take Dad reminding them and staying on their case to make sure it has been done. But that’s ok–that’s part of my job as their father.

Making the decision to involve the kids on a trip adds extra time and most likely a bit of aggravation. There is no doubt you will be getting up earlier than if it was just you and your crew. You will have to make a few more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and throw a few more snacks in the cooler. Did I remember to pack the sunscreen? Do we have enough water? It’s not easy, but it’s what we do as good parents to lay the groundwork and open their eyes to a world they may otherwise miss.

For me, it all becomes worth it when they feel that first tug on the line, the bend of the rod and I hear them asking for help to reel it in. There truly is nothing better than seeing that huge genuine smile come across their face after landing a nice fish. It brings me back and reminds me of much simpler days, when I was that kid with that same smile. If you are a parent like me and have kids like mine, don’t take the easy road this summer. It may seem difficult now, but you very well may be shaping your dive buddy or fishing partner for years to come.