Friday, June 22 , 2018, 5:18 pm | Partly Cloudy 65º


Captain’s Log: Teaching Kids the Value of Cleaning Up Nature

A walk along a local creek bed turns into a lesson on the importance of picking up after ourselves

I had two young granddaughters in tow for a long walk along our local creek bed. We were on a trail surrounded by lush new growth and vibrant wildflowers. I thoroughly enjoyed the permeating smells of nature, the sights of wild, untrimmed growth and a crinkling sound.

Hmmm … crinkling sound?! Well, that sure pulled my head out of nature because I knew that sound — candy wrappers. I spun around to take a closer look at the two kids.

A survey of the trail behind us showed evidence of the mistreatment of nature. A candy wrapper laid about 30 feet behind us. I could see another one about 50 feet behind the first. The trail took a bend beyond that, but I felt relatively certain that even more candy wrappers would reveal that a mouthful of sweet stuff had far more to do with their quiet behavior than the stunning beauty of nature around us.

Sigh! I’m a total chocoholic myself, but not on the trail.

There is a time for enjoying nature and a time for teaching kids a valuable lesson. So we stopped to have a chat about the evils of junking up nature.

As a sea captain, I know that Mother Nature has a way of evening the score when we put too much trash and pollutants on the ground. Sooner or later, she will wash it all out to sea and then back on our beaches. One of those candy wrappers could get sucked into a cooling water intake on one of my boat engines if it didn’t gag some poor critter first.

After the lecture (you’ve read much of it), we retraced our steps — the entire walk — picking up every bit of trash. While diligently looking for our candy wrappers, we noticed plenty of other folks’ trash. The kids didn’t really feel much like cleaning up after others. There was one discarded plastic package that had ants all over it, and my grandkids wanted absolutely nothing to do with that one, but I convinced them that we needed to get those ants off their junk food diet so they could get healthy again. Hey, whatever works! Once past that hurdle, they seemed happier with picking up trash from every littering hooligan to walk that trail.

We came home with fistfuls of trash and happily deposited them in our trash can. Then we washed our hands thoroughly. Know what makes me a proud granddad? When we drive by that area now, the kids usually look toward the creek bed and talk proudly about cleaning it up. Their pride does me proud.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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