The concept of a “Youth Field Day” was first envisioned by Bob MacWilliams, Information and Education Supervisor of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Northwest Division and a group of 26 area sportsmen from the northwest corner of Pennsylvania. This group came together on a snowy day in February, 1991 to discuss the concerns they had over the decline of youth involvement in the outdoors, and what they might be able to do to reverse this trend.
The group was concerned with several sociological factors that had affected youth interest in the outdoors, including constantly rising numbers of single-parent families, the arrival of the computer age (complete with Nintendo and other mind absorbing games!), and an anti-hunting sentiment that was beginning to find its way into the classroom.
By days end, the Northwest Sportsmen for Youth organization had been formed, involving representation from the 10-county area of Northwest Pennsylvania. The group had decided that the best way to regain the interest of youth in hunting and other outdoor pursuits would be to hold a “field day” during which time the youth might be exposed to several activities that might spark their interest.
The philosophy of the concept is simple – Pennsylvania has a rich outdoor heritage, and we are interested in assuring that the tradition is carried on for our children and grandchildren to enjoy in the future. Through the Youth Field Day program, we are attempting to introduce our youth to the rich, personal experiences that can be derived from the outdoors through a variety of activities that can be experienced in a single day. Hopefully, this hands-on participation will spark an interest in outdoor recreational pursuits, which can be developed by parents, grandparents, or other friends or relatives long after the event is concluded. Even if the youth never become hunters or fishermen they will at least have been exposed to the outdoors, and may be more likely to support these activities enjoyed by so many others.