Share the passion, make a difference

Pound-for-pound, it was one of the most impressive hunting displays one could ever imagine.

Sheer determination, dedication to the hunt and commitment to follow through. She used the wind to help pin down her prey, a slow and steady gait to get into position without flushing her quarry and flashed a look of pride after the hunt was successfully complete.

She was a 31-pound, efficient, unrelenting hunting machine.

And no, I am talking about my 14-year-old Brittany — although I could have been. The bird dog and I had been on plenty of hunts over the years for pheasants and quail. She had done amazing things in the field and was truly the epitome of an efficient hunter. Except that in her late retirement, those days are well behind her.

On this specific day, I was hunting butterflies. My partner-in-crime was a five-year-old pre-adoptive child my family is hoping to officially adopt in the near future. This will be our second adoption, and as it was with the first, the outdoors have played a major part in the transition process.

Sarah (not her real name, but confidentiality is a vow that must be kept during the process) spent her first extended period tent camping with the family this summer. She caught her first fish and quickly added her second through 10th — all bluegills — at a small pond at the Central Pennsylvania Wesleyan Campground near New Columbia. She spent countless hours riding her bike and swimming and picking wildflowers and swinging on swings.

But Sarah’s major outdoor passion is hunting — even if it is more of the butterfly persuasion than for deer or turkey. There are so many parallels, though. Patience and determination are key. Being aware of the surroundings and observant enough to alter your approach are also important. Having a passion for being in the outdoors is paramount.

So what if you exchange a 20-gauge for a big pink net and a plastic mayonnaise jar with small breathing holes poked into the top? And while you may not be able to get much jerky or bologna out of a butterfly or caterpillar or other bug, you can still teach the concept of catch-and-release versus what is a true keeper.

And in that lesson comes something bigger. Something worth latching onto with the gusto of a hungry Susquehanna River muskie annihilating a minnow.

As of Saturday night, there were 211 children listed on the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network website — all of whom need a forever family.

All of them are keepers who deserve much more than being thrown back into the system.

Go ahead and visit the site yourself: You’ll see kids of all shapes, sizes, ages and interests. See their pictures. Read their stories.

And these are just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds more that never make it to the website that are just as deserving of a new home — of a chance to catch their first fish or take a family fall foliage hike along the Ricketts Glen waterfalls trails or even someone to help them catch a butterfly or two.

Are you passionate about the outdoors? There are hundreds of young people across the state who’d love to share that passion with you. You just need to take the first step.

For more about adoption, foster care or other ways you can make a difference, go to or call Families United Network at 651-9016.


~ by zaktansky on September 10, 2011.

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