Christmas morning was the best. That was when we got most of our construction gear. We spent hours building roads, moving dirt from one place to the other. The jeans we wore earned the holes in the knees and backside scrapping the dirt, gravel rocks and concrete. Our tractors and dump trucks were manual operation, no engine or battery required. They were big, tough yellow steel and we loved them.
Back in the day we were not distracted by electronics. I don’t have to explain much more than that, you know what we are dealing and have for the last 10-years or more. The consequences to our kids have been diminished creative thinking, patience, tolerance, and decision making. Not to mention the physical health consequences from kids who do not venture outside.
Santa can be a rescue this year in what toys he brings little Johnny and little Suzie. My specialty is boys so let me focus on Johnny and how you can impact him with your gift giving this Christmas.
Tonka. Look for the big metal ones. They still make them. Pair them up and then go buy a couple bags dirt or sand. Dump it all in the corner of the yard and let him go. You might include a trip to watch some construction gear at work for real so he can see the way they work. This is a classic. The payoff is creativity and hopefully some dirt under his fingernails.
Daisy Red Ryder or Genesis Bow. The Red Ryder BB gun is a classic for every boy. An old cardboard box and some empty soda cans with a tub of BB’s and it’s a go. The Genesis Bow is the best choice for archery. It can be adjusted easily, and they won’t get frustrated with elementary level gear after a couple days. These are going to be age appropriate and require some teaching up front, but it will include the payoff of responsibility, gun/bow safety lessons and again, outdoor time.
Hammer. Tools. I love giving boys tools. Screw drivers, plyers, handsaw. These can teach a boy to look closely at how things are made. Know that a hammer in the hands of a boy rings true in the ole saying, “Give a boy a hammer and everything looks like a nail.” I would give up the leg on a chair or bedpost over hours of a boy online playing video games any day.
Flashlight, tent, sleeping bag. I give flashlights to every kid, it’s standard gifting 101. The sleeping bag is a gift they can take anywhere and is always a solid. The tent can begin backyard campouts and training them to sleep away, outdoors, on solid ground. All these items are made for outdoor exploration and staring at the stars.
Jesus and his mighty men spent most of their time outdoors hiking, camping, eating. His men were men who would understand how to work with their hands, harvest food, “do hard things.”. Imagine the conversations with the one who created the stars above, at night, around a campfire. Wow. Part of the learning process Jesus used was giving the Apostilles time to think, dream, ask questions.
Conversations around a campfire are different, God made them that way. Create moments with Jesus and your boy around the campfire. You can also find Him in the moments you spend with your boy in a pile of dirt playing trucks or sitting under the tree out back plinking with the Red Ryder. Your best gift after all, no matter the season, is you. Lots and lots of you and Jesus will honor your heart there.
I loved my tonka trucks and would spend days on a construction dig. Former Baseball player Harmon Killebrew said, “My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass’; ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys.’
This year lets give our boys the gift of dirty fingernails, torn jeans and a night under the stars. If they are like me, they will never forget it. Ever.
If you are looking for a safe place for your boy to be mentored in all the above and more check out Kids Outdoor Zone (KOZ). KOZ is an outdoor ministry for boys. It’s based out of churches all over the US. If you are considering where you might give financially for Christmas or end of the year, consider Kids Outdoor Zone. Your gifts will train more men, to rescue more boys across the country. www.KidsOutdoorZone.com