There is a bright corner of social media where little faces show off proud achievements: doing the grip and grin pose behind a first buck, smiling big while holding a nice perch, or triumphantly posing at the top of a steep hiking trail.
It's called Take Them Kids Outdoors (TTKO), and it is an online community where outdoor enthusiasts of all ages can go to celebrate each other's experiences. According to group founder Pat Kalmerton, it is important that it stays that way.
"Right now there is so much animosity and competition in the world," Kalmerton said. "The biggest problem with social media right now is that someone behind a keyboard wants to tell everyone else what they can and cannot do. This group is not like that. This is a place where we simplify and think about how to help each other."
After having his social channels hacked, Kalmerton had to start from scratch. He had a big desire to share his family's outdoor adventures so there would be a place to look back and enjoy those memories. He came up with Take Them Kids Outdoors. What started as a way to document his outdoor activities with his own children quickly grew into something bigger.
"I started to get more and more people posting about their own adventures outdoors," Kalmerton said. "It became a community. There are people from all around the country and even other countries."
Kalmerton is a Wisconsin-based hunting and fishing guide and outdoor brand promoter. The outdoors are his passion and he wants others to benefit from the outdoors community too.
"I realized I could share these outdoor passions like my father shared it with me," he said. "I have these memories that no one can take away. If I can offer other people that, that's enough for me."
The Take Them Kids Outdoors Facebook group is his way to facilitate the sharing of outdoor experiences online for others to connect with each other and encourage each other.
"People are getting ideas from each other for new trips to take the kids on," he said. "We emphasize enjoying the outdoors."
He hopes the group encourages parents to take their kids into nature.
"If I can inspire another parent or caregiver to take a kid outdoors—it doesn't matter if it is hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, going to the playground—it doesn't matter," Kalmerton said. "I want this site to be a place to share anything as long as there is no roof over their head. Even if it is going down to the river to skip rocks. I want to see those experiences posted in the group."
Most importantly, Kalmerton knows the value of the outdoors firsthand, and is making efforts to help others know it too.
"There is something about walking at night and listening to the crickets and the bullfrogs and everything else," he said. "When you are out in the country there is an awareness that you are not the top of the food chain. You are part of something a lot bigger. So many people want to experience that."
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