“I was 14 years old, sitting with my Dad along the banks of the Missouri River on a cold, South Dakota December morning,” Charlie Moore reminisced. “I can see the puff of my dad’s breath in the air, his voice is so engrained in my memory.” Charlie, previously with In-Fisherman magazine, the Professional Walleye Trail, and G2-Gemini Sports Marketing has enjoyed a blessed career in the outdoor world. When he was 14 years old though, it was his father who made the family’s living as a fishing and hunting guide.
Charlie and his dad, Lewis, had just shot a limit of mallards. The morning was bitter cold, only four degrees. “Bring the dekes in, son,” Lewis Moore instructed.
Charlie did as told, though he dreaded picking them out of the water. He knew his hands were going to go numb wrapping the cords out of the cold water. Yet, he persevered to bag them up. Then something surprised the teenager; his father pulled the boat back on shore and poured himself a cup of coffee, and a hot chocolate for his son.
During this quiet moment between father and son, the ducks were laid out; a few photos taken. Then Dad sat down and looked Charlie in the face. It was time for a serious talk.
“I know I am hard on you, son. You might even think me mean at times,” Lewis continued. “Just remember … I am your father first, your friend second.” Charlie knew the significance of the moment, even at 14. His father was a man of few words. He didn’t sit him down for a talk unless it was important. Now it was time for a talk.
“My job is to make sure you are safe, make good decisions, and most importantly … grow up to be a good man. I am a guide, this is my gift—to share the outdoors with others. Showing them what God has created and how simply this beauty exists all around us.”
Charlie loved the outdoor life that he led with his family, longing for the weekend to arrive—spending time with Dad both fishing and hunting. “There were two rules back then,” Charlie continued as he described his chat with his father. “We couldn’t miss church or youth group.” At the time, Charlie didn’t understand it fully, but he followed his father’s rules.
“I’m lucky, my gift is to share God’s incredible beauty and creation with others,” continued Lewis during this heart-to-heart chat next to the river. “I want to share this with you. Maybe your God-given gift is to share the outdoors with others, too. God has a plan for us all, son. His plan for me was to pass this along to others, teach them how to appreciate it.” Then the two prayed and gave thanks. The talk was over, but Charlie would never forget it.
Now, 30 years later, Charlie thinks back on that wholesome upbringing and his connection to the outdoors and God’s calling to enjoy it and be good stewards of it. After all the teen years involved in Youth Group, he now leads his own church’s Youth Group in South Dakota and plays guitar in the Praise Band, giving back a little bit of another God-given gift—musical talent.
“I think back on that conversation often,” shared Charlie. “I can see the sincere look that was on my father’s face; wanting a grounded life for me.” That conversation guided Charlie’s life: church and faith built a family foundation and has been a staple in his life ever since. It is where he finds help, friends, love, and support … not to mention grace and forgiveness.
A simple credo from Charlie’s father: Don’t skip church, find your gift, and share it with others. Yet it strikes me as profound, something that will withstand the test of time. In some ways, this is all the guidance we need.
It still inspires Charlie today. “It is so important to share God’s greatest gifts in any way possible with others. This is the reason I am so involved in my church and live to pass along the messages of Christ and his gifts,” shared Charlie. “God has a plan, plain and simple. All we have to do is follow it.”
As I think about Charlie as a teenager, afield with his father, and sharing faith and the great outdoors all wrapped up in one, I think about the impact all of us can have on the youngsters around us. They might be our own kids, or they might be nieces or nephews or grandkids, or they might be kids in our community.
As I go about my day, perhaps I need to look for a wholesome way that I can affect young people. That my eyes will be open to sharing outdoor experiences and knowledge with young people—and maybe be lucky enough to share a few steps on the journey of faith, too. Will I inspire today? Or be inspired? Lord, guide me today in the paths you have for me.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
K.J. Houtman is the author and publisher of Fish On Kids Books—chapter books for kids who enjoy fishing, camping and hunting. If you’d like to enjoy more of Houtman’s work, visit the Fish On Kids Books site at: http://fishonkidsbooks.com/ChapterBooksKidsFishHunt.html.