Our children are our legacy. What aspects of our lives will be preserved and passed on to future generations is a question we can ask ourselves. It is a surprise when we discover that our children value something that we think may have been underappreciated or overlooked.
That was our reaction when my wife and I attended the White Coat Ceremony held at George Washington University last weekend for our youngest son, Nathaniel, and 150 or so first-year medical students. The white coat ceremony is a rite of passage for first-year medical students signifying their entry into the medical profession.
As part of the ceremony, each first-year medical student was asked to announce something that their classmates and families in attendance would find unusual or unique about them. My wife and I weren’t sure what he would say. Perhaps it would announce an academic achievement or a clay pigeon shooting award or the biggest fish you’ve ever caught? But to our surprise, he revealed the fact that her parents were her teachers in high school!
Unique, yes. Something we thought he was proud of, we were never sure.
making us proud
We are fortunate to have raised two remarkable young men who continue to make us proud. Our sons, Andre and Nathaniel, attended and graduated from Frederick County Public Schools. As parents and educators, our priority has always been education. School attendance and homework took precedence over everything else. Our children have been fortunate to have been raised by two dedicated parents who provided them with a home and the structure and support necessary to become productive citizens.
Andre is a 2002 graduate of Walkersville High School. After high school, he attended the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, graduating in 2006. He spent six years as an active duty naval officer before entering the US Navy Reserve. USA, where he currently holds the rank of lieutenant commander. He lives in Columbia, Maryland with his wife and his two children.
Nathaniel is a 2017 graduate of Tuscarora High School. He attended Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, graduating in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He was a member of the varsity trap shooting team. After graduation, he lived in his house for a year while he worked for AstraZeneca in Frederick and applied to medical school. Nathaniel recently married and he and his wife live in Arlington, Virginia. He now attends the George Washington School of Health and Medical Sciences in Washington, DC
the outer edge
Despite being 15 years apart in age, our two sons are very similar in appearance and personality, but they are people with different career paths. What they have in common is that they were both raised with what I call an “outer edge.” Camping, hiking, biking, snowboarding, canoeing, kayaking, and of course hunting and fishing were important aspects of his upbringing.
Fortunately, as a father, I was able to pass on my passion for the outdoors to our two sons. Like my own relationship with my father, my connection with our children was built around our experiences in the great outdoors and the friends and other family members who joined us on those adventures. My passion for shooting sports has been an important key to my direct involvement not only with my children, but also with the other young people I have coached. Archery and firearms training began for both of our sons at a young age.
I have no doubt that interest and participation in outdoor activities have contributed to the character development of our children. I credit his involvement with the Boy Scouts of America organization for much of his outdoor edge. Scouting is more than just camping. Important skills like swimming, first aid, and survival can save lives. Merit badges like fishing, rifle, shotgun, and archery were his favorites. Both boys achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, an achievement that has in turn been attributed to future successes and achievements in their lives.
Fishing and hunting have provided many memorable family outings. Fishing is a great way to introduce children to the outdoors. We bring fishing gear when we’re around the water, while spending time at the beach, camping, canoeing, and kayaking.
Hunting started later for our sons after successfully completing the Maryland Hunter Safety Course. They are both accomplished marksmen and can safely handle firearms. Each of them has captured numerous large and small game animals. They understand the value of wild game, how to obtain it, and how to prepare it. Venison has always been a staple in our kitchen and is often supplemented with squirrel, goose, duck, rabbit and pheasant. They also understand the important role hunters play in wildlife conservation.
Outdoor activities including fishing, hunting, and shooting sports are lifelong pursuits that create lasting family bonds. My father was my access to the outdoor world. The promise of the next opportunity to fish or hunt kept me on track as a young student. It only took my father once to drop me off at home while he went fishing without me before he changed my bad attitude as a rebellious high school student.
Life is about opportunities, some we create and others we are lucky to discover. My outdoor edge has had a lasting impact on my life that has benefited me in ways I didn’t anticipate. I am privileged to be able to teach hunter education courses, coach youth shooting sports, and be able to share my outdoor experience with the readers of this newspaper. The days we spend on the field with our boys are precious moments that we will always remember and continue to share.
Our two sons continue to make us proud as parents and as teachers. Our children are our legacy; perhaps one day they will also be teachers.