When many of us grew up, there weren't a couple hundred channels on cable television. We had one station _ WKTV out of Utica or Binghamton's WBNG, depending on where you lived. There were no computers, cell phones or Game Boys. We were able to entertain ourselves, and most of our spare time was spent outside.

Today things are different. Today's youth have more strength in their thumbs and probably more calluses on their butts because most of their time is spent with iPods, X-Boxes and other indoor activities.

To encourage our kids to get back outside and experience the wonders of nature, the Department of Environmental Conservation has launched a magazine _ Conservationist for Kids. This publication is written for a fourth-grade level and will be sent to classrooms across the state. The first edition will be included in all subscriptions of the Conservationist.

The focus of the magazine is to encourage today's children to become more involved in outdoor activities, such as canoeing, camping, hunting and fishing. It's intended to strengthen conservation education and hopes to create a generation of environmental stewards. Outdoor opportunities in all seasons are highlighted with many interesting activities to spur kids away from this electronic world that exists today. For more information, visit the DEC website or www.cforkids.org.

When my kids grew up, they spent a lot of time playing in the "little woods," getting cold on snowy days and going on an occasional camping trip. Randy was always anxious to tag along when I went hunting. It was a good thing, too, because I really needed him a couple of times.

We drove up north to our camp in the Kunjamuk one day to hunt on opening weekend. After picking up some supplies at Charley John's store in Speculator, we drove along East Road back to the old log cabin.

When we went through one of the many deep mud holes across the nearly impassible road, water splashed up onto the engine and the truck stopped dead.

Young and full of energy, Randy jogged four or five miles before finding someone to help us. We were towed out of the road but had to get the truck fixed after the weekend. Thankfully, he was there or I would have had to walk all that way myself.

On another trip into the same section of the Adirondacks, Chuck Pinkey and I were hunting in the woods between the Rock Pond trail and the Kunjamuk Flow. It was a warm autumn day when Randy and I made a push along the river and back up to the trail to where "hundred yard" Chuck was waiting on watch.

We were hot and tired after wandering over the hills, trudging through the swamps and plowing through the brush. Gosh, what we wouldn't do for a cold Pepsi!

Never fear, Randy was there. He covered the 2-mile run to camp and back in about 15 minutes, allowing us to enjoy very refreshing drinks while we sat beneath the huge, white pines.

For heaven's sake, get the kids away from those darn computers and involved with the outdoors. They really come in handy every once in a while.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. E-mail him at robrockway@hotmail.com.

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