So much technology, information and automation seems to make our practical knowledge and real-world skills atrophy. For instance, this AP article by Beth Harpaz talks about how many teenagers today have not ever used a can opener or ice cube trays (High-tech World May Spawn a Generation of Nincompoops). This article is an eye-opener! Fact is, technology and prosperity have made us lazy and weak, and this effect only seems to multiply with each generation. Increasingly, we seem to live in this sterile atmosphere where everything is comfortably provided and basic life skills have become the work of "skilled labor." I mean, who changes their own oil, or fixes their plumbing, or grows their own food.....or makes their own ice cubes?
So, what does all this have to do with trapping? I think trapping is one more practical skill that is slowly being lost. There was a time when many people trapped, and if you go back far enough, there was a time in our history when probably most people trapped. It was a useful skill that used a renewable resource for food, fur and income, and brought balance to the environment in the process. It made sense to do, and it made sense to learn it and teach it to the next generation. We've come pretty far since those days, but trapping is still a great example of a life skill with a practical purpose. It is no coincidence that trapping is historically associated with some of the most self-reliant and innovative people in American history; it is a skill for the practical man. Seems to me that the challenge of trapping also engenders the quality of self-reliance; the trappers I know are "do-it-yourself" kind of people with a wide range of other life skills.
In this push-button age where practical skills are declining, I think it's a good idea to buck the trend and learn some new skills. It's just more fulfilling to know how to do things. I have a few ideas about things I'm going to learn to do myself, but one of the things you can bet I'll do is teach my kids to trap. Trapping is an all-in-one education about the natural world, and a practical skill that will keep you learning for a lifetime. It will get your hands dirty, and the more time a man spends close to the earth, the more "down to earth" his thoughts and his life will be. That's the way I see it.
So, teach a kid to trap.....and for heaven's sake, while you're at it teach him to use an ice cube tray too!
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