Here’s an idea.
One of the main reasons we hate stuff like beach closures and habitat preservation efforts along the coast, and why we find our native animals so inconvenient and annoying at times, is that we just want to be able to do the same things we always did down the shore, in the same places we always did them. Often, what our parents and grandparents did, exactly where they did it. We tend to dig into our little spots along the shore like ticks, and stay there for generations.
But if somehow you could magically erase some of those memories, you’d have no idea what you were missing and be none the wiser. There would be no controversy if officials only closed beaches no one ever went to before, or protected animals who did not happen to live on the same beach where we were raised as kids and are now trying to share with our children. Our kids never got to walk Holgate in the summer, let alone drive it. They have no idea it’s closed because they never knew it to be open in the first place.
So what if we all just raised our kids to believe that habitat preservation and native animals are a really important part of life at the beach, and doing what we can to keep the coast a little wild is the highest form of summer recreation, even if we don’t feel that way ourselves? Even better, even if we value those things but just find ourselves a little too lazy and selfish to change our ways, we can just hide that from our kids and raise them to value the wild coast above their own recreations when appropriate. Very much like I encourage my own family to eat healthy, then sneak out for a double scoop of Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream from the Big Dipper in Surf City after everyone has gone to bed.
So easy. Our problems solved in a single generation. Even when we can’t change ourselves, we can change the whole future quite quickly by teaching the kids to do the stuff we know we should be doing but just don’t have the will to get done ourselves.
On a foggy, rainy day a few weeks ago I was checking in on Tufters & Tacey. I managed to find Tufters, which was quite a feat in those conditions. Suddenly out of the thick fog appeared a young boy, no more than seven, and what appeared to be his heavily tattooed, chain-smoking grandfather. He clearly saw Tufters too, and I was amazed. As they passed me, I overheard the ittiest bit of their conversation. The young boy was saying:
… and she is laying eggs in the shells over there…
Whoa! Looks like junior is taking grandpa to school. I immediately fired off an email to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey to let them know their huge investment in educating and involving youth in the future of the coast is paying a giant dividend.
This summer, all Islanders have an excellent opportunity to help save the Island’s wildlife in the smartest and easiest way possible: by making their kids do it for them.
The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is hosting two very special days at Barnegat Light State Park on July 13th and July 27th: Beach, Birds, & Biology: A Wildlife Adventure. If you know a child in the 4th to 6th grade, force them to go because it is going to be super fun and interesting and could plant a seed that could change the whole future.
Every good beach bum loves to be a know-it-all. This is your chance to give a young person you love a head start.
Best of all, the adventures are going to be led by the sublime Emily Heiser: one of the coolest, funnest, most knowledgeable people you could possibly meet on the Wild Beach. You might remember her as the mastermind behind Plover Prom. Heck, I even recommend some of you dress up like a sixth grader just for the chance to hang around and learn from her for an afternoon. I know I’m going to.
Get more information and register all your itty-bitties here: http://www.conservewildlifenj.org/education/kidssummerprograms/
But act soon as space is limited. And Barnegat Light is sure to be the most popular of locations for the program as the kids might get a chance to meet the New Jersey’s most famous pair of Piping Plover, Tufters & Tacey.