Wednesday, May 23, 2018 Elyria 61°


Love the outdoors? Then keep a journal


I want to say thanks to so many of you who sent me compliments and condolences regarding last week’s column on mothers in the outdoors.

I am touched to see how this page reaches so many good people, and your kindness gives me encouragement that future generations in the outdoors may learn from the greatness of those generations past.

The whole week has given me moments of reflection, a chance to evaluate what I am doing personally to make memories and encourage my own kids to be more involved in the outdoors.

Well, those of you who know me know there isn’t really much more I could do; we’re constantly in the field or on the water. But as I’ve talked to so many old friends about those days when I was an outdoors kid, I kept having my memory sparked of events I didn’t even know I could recall.

So, it’s not the experiences we’re short on, but the ability to actually remember them, and without that it’s like they didn’t happen at all.

Of course, we can take photos. That’s easy and effective. How many of us recall inviting the neighbors over to watch “slides” of our family vacation on the old carousel projector, or better yet, the jumpy old 8-millimeter or super-8 home movies of our camping trip?

But the problem that’s rising already is one of keeping up with technology. Once home movies moved into the video era, there were a plethora of short-lived formats, many of which we can’t access anymore because you can’t find parts or service for that old Betamax player (for example) and transferring them to other formats is a challenge.

Here’s one thing I’ve been doing for a couple of years that’s already paid off in memories recalled: I created an outdoor journal.

Personal journal keeping is an art which isn’t practiced much anymore, but it’s actually pretty easy.

Get a decent quality blank journal of any description. I say “decent quality” because this journal will go with you in the outdoors and it will get exposed to morning dew, the splash of a bluegill being pulled from the pond, a little drip of coffee from the campfire pot and will come to rest on a rock, the ground, the roof or dashboard of the family car and many such exposures to the elements of life that will give its cover and edges “character.”

I recommend a leather binding if you can find one.

As for writing the journal, you don’t need to be Hemingway. Start out with the date, the weather and the place you are visiting at the top of the page. Then, just write down what happens during the day; what you cooked for breakfast, was it on the stove or over a campfire? What sounds are you hearing as you have your coffee; motorboats on the lake, squirrels chattering in the pines, red-winged blackbirds in the cat tails? What did you do before lunch; any nature finds on the trail, or did you spend the day at the pool? If the camper broke down or you found a hole in the roof of the tent when it rained, write it down.

It’s the exceptions in life that make memories.

End each day with the memories of the campfire; who built it and how, did you make hobo dinners, camper pies or s’mores? After the kids go to bed, write a line or two by the firelight about how you feel about the day you shared together.

In the years to come someone will read this journal and have so much more to hold in their hearts than, “Yeah, we went camping a lot.”

Be part of history?

ODNR’s Division of Parks and Watercraft wants to remind you not to just have a personal floatation device (PFD) on board, but wear it whenever you’re on the water with a “Ready, Set, Wear it!” event Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Mercy Health and Recreation Center, 47160 Hollstein Drive in Amherst. The event is held at sites throughout Ohio and around the world to educate the public about the role of PFD’s in water safety and they’ll be attempting to set a new world record for most life jackets worn at the same time.

Last year, 6,784 people gathered at more than 210 events held around the world to set a new record for the number of participants.

Stuff to do

  • Also Saturday, there will be a free Children’s Fishing Derby at Cleveland Metroparks Wallace Lake in the Mill Stream Reservation of Berea from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (216) 206-1010 for details
  • Ohio Archers Association will have a 3D Target Trail Shoot for adults and youth at Ashland Bowmen Range, 1930 County Road 1035, Ashland, on May 28 beginning at 9:30 a.m. Registration is required and details are available on their website,

Contact Byron Scarbrough at

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