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Go Play Outside Alliance teaches kids about nature and fun in the outdoors

In 2004, thousands of kids participated in more than 100 events nationwide.

By Patrick Zellner, GoPAW Expo Logistics

photo: kids with signs


Youth. That is a very powerful word.

When I think of the word and see the kids, I know that they are the future, and need to have more knowledge and confidence. That is very powerful. Who is teaching them to use that power to make, build and protect the future, not just for themselves but for everyone?

We, as a generation have not doing enough to teach them the importance of being connected to nature, outdoor recreation and most importantly the stewardship of and to it all. We are not building their confidence or knowledge of nature. With confidence comes competence, with competence comes great confidence to take on anything the world can throw at them. The future needs us to help the kids now, they will be the ones that will have to change the way everything is done in the future.

As a member of Back Country Horsemen of Washington (BCHW) and Go Play Outside Alliance of Wash (GoPAW) I am very active in youth and family outdoor recreation out-reach and education. We are a varied group of archers, fisherman of all types, hunters of all types and hunter education, horsemen, and many other outdoor recreation users.

photo of lake and bridge from the air



We have typically taken hands on activity events to Middle Schools. We then began putting on mini expos open to several schools. Our goal has been to reach more and more kids (and just as importantly) families throughout the state and to share our love, knowledge and stewardship of the outdoors with them. To pass on the confidence to go play outside without fear. This is best done by direct exposure and first hand, hands on experiences.

The greatest resource we have to lose is the HUMAN RESOURCE. We know that with out passing on these skills and heritage, our state and country will suffer great irreplaceable loss of the human resource and natural resources of all of the states and the country.

Have we truly lost the nature instinct man has known with the world? The only way to insure that the human spirit's connection to nature, will survive is to work harder and commit to a greater concerted effort to educate and demonstrate to the human resource, the kids and the family. Many of these kids are children of people that also have not had or taken the opportunity themselves to learn or experience the outdoors.

photo: kids with signs



They are afraid of what they do not know about getting out and exploring the opportunities found in the great outdoors. They are afraid of the worst of man and know little of the best of man, they know fear and doubt and see little hope. They remain locked in fear and rarely connect with nature and they have passed this fear on to the children. This has created a natural disconnect and a natural disaster.

All outdoor groups must unite and mobilize to stop this disaster before we, the teachers are gone or too few to make a difference. Every outdoor group, no matter the personal belief or ethic needs to join together and pass it all on or it will be all be lost forever.

Many people believe that many groups can not get along or work together because of difference of opinion, I disagree. I have seen it work. I have begun to explain to everyone that I meet the following statement. My rights do not make you wrong, nor do your rights make me wrong. But we must do the right thing. Teach and share .

photo of lake and bridge from the air


We are all right in some way and we can meet at the trail crossing to find common ground and we can work toward the common standard of passing on our skills, knowledge and ethics and give them all of the tools to decide what needs to be done, they will be deciding some day soon, very soon. We need to teach hope and strength, through a connection back to nature and wonder and spirit and yes, FUN.

For the last year and a half, Go Play Outside (GoPAW) has been committed to the goal of working, planning, building and making the dream come true of presenting a large outdoor youth expo for the state of Washington.

Last May the Go Play Outside Alliance of Washington and the Wash. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, put on the very first, Washington Youth Outdoor Adventure Expo, the site was the Cowlitz County Expo Center in Longview Washington, as far as we know an event directed to kids and the outdoors like this has never been done in Washington State. It was a great success in so many ways for all of the kids, families and the groups involved bringing it to reality.

photo: kids with signs


We Proudly hosted 2300+ school kids on Friday from a 100 mile radius and 2200+ people ( about half were kids ) on Saturday. All of this was done with only 160 GoPAW volunteers, many various presenters, exhibitors and the Wash. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife staff. We could have used a lot more help and more hands on type activities. Friday truly was a lot of kids all at once, and all day. A great team people pulled together and made it a wonderful experience.

We will begin to plan the 2008 expo June 6th at our next regular meeting in Ellensburg. So far we are talking about the 2008 event being in Spokane. We foresee it being an even larger event next year. In 2009 we would like to plan the event for somewhere around the Seattle vicinity. I can not imagine yet how large that event could be. All I can think is WOW!

As we grow, we need so much more help and commitment from an even greater variety and number of outdoor enthusiasts. Spread the word, GO PLAY OUTSIDE.

For more information:
Patrick Zellner, GoPAW Expo Logistics - or 425-765-3003
Jackie Jones, GoPAW President -

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