Playing paintball in the woods

What the kids want

Figuring out what your kids would like to get out of your woodland is the first step in getting them passionate about it.

My sister and her husband purchased some forested property in Vernon County a few years ago, and would spend most of their time there if they could.  They were originally looking for land to hunt deer on, but have found they get so much more from it over time.

Every Thanksgiving my brother-in-law regales me with stories of the hunt and to what extent they have filled their freezer.  The conversation will then turn to progress on finishing the “cabin”, the amount of firewood cut, and other activities they undertake to make their forest what they want it to be.

Sometime later that day I will turn to my 20 something nephews for their experience on the woodlot.  They will discuss the hunt briefly, but will often move the discussion quickly to the recent paintball or disc golf competitions they have held on the property with friends.  Or laughingly share their latest misadventure flying around on the ATVs.

I know my sister is happy that her kids have found a number of activities to do at the woodlot, and doesn’t care that it isn’t something she is excited about.  She is just content that they can take part in things together as a family and that her kids look forward to the times they can visit the property.

Not all landowners are as fortunate in this regard.  Many teens and young adults would rather spend their time staring at their phone or in the city, than be in the bug infested woods where there is only work and no phone reception.

I think the key to my sister’s success in getting her kids interested in their woodlot was twofold.  She showed them things they could do on the property (e.g. hunt) and encouraged them to do those.  She also allowed them to find activities on their own to do and didn’t discourage from exploring them further.

Now the kids still are “asked” to help out with things like firewood production, cabin maintenance/expansion and other mundane tasks.  However, they do so knowing they will benefit from this work as well as their parents.  Additionally, my sister and brother-in-law are open to suggestions as to which trees are cut and left and how the trails are laid out.

My sister and her husband needed to be flexible and focus on what is the true goal for their property.  Ultimately, they bought the property to have a place of their own where they as a family could go and spend time together enjoying the outdoors.  They achieved that by letting their kids take ownership in that vision and mold it into what they want as well.