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Connecting Kids with the Outdoors Comes Naturally to Bass Pro Shops

Connecting Kids with the Outdoors Comes Naturally to Bass Pro Shops

By Therese Ciesinski, In The Dirt newsletter editor
Photos courtesy of Bass Pro Shops and GardenSMART

Outdoor retailer Bass Pro Shops and GardenSMART are partnering with the not-for-profit Whole Kids Foundation to address concerns that today’s children don’t spend enough time outdoors. Gardening is one way to bring kids back to nature. When kids garden, they see the fruits of their labors, and understand the importance of clean air, water, soil, and the environment.

Getting children outside is core to Bass Pro Shops’ mission. “Introducing kids to the outdoors is critical to fostering the next generation of conservationists,” said Bass Pro Shops Founder Johnny Morris. “Bass Pro Shops is excited to connect even more people to nature and inspire students to discover, enjoy and protect the outdoors.”

As an incentive, Bass Pro Shops, Whole Kids Foundation, and GardenSMART are hosting a sweepstakes to plant gardens in schools. During the month of October, you can enter your child’s school to win a $2000 garden grant. Five lucky schools will each receive a grant to start a garden or improve an existing one. What’s more, each school will have the opportunity to showcase their garden on its own episode of GardenSMART.

Bass Pro Shops has been getting people into nature for over 40 years. By now, the story of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops’ founder is almost legend: In 1971, Morris, an angler, drove across the country buying the fishing tackle that he couldn’t find locally, and selling it in his father’s liquor store. That success led to a mail order catalog and more stores. Today, 72 stores later (and more opening every year), the rest is outdoor retailing history.

The stores are enormous, each about 150,000 square feet, and each one is customized to reflect its location. From the aquarium and the wildlife displays to the merchandise, no two stores are alike. Combining education, conservation, entertainment and retail sales, every store is an experience, like a visit to a natural history museum and aquarium combined.

Year-round events are a big part of how Bass Pro Shops gets its outdoor message across, and are tailored to all ages and experience levels, from hardcore anglers and hunters, to camping families, to kids playing in their backyards.

“There’s a Father’s Day catch and release fishing event,” says Stan Lippelman, Vice President of Marketing. “In June and July we have outdoor camps for kids, with different seminars, including archery, shooting, and identifying animal tracks.” A family swim camp is held in summer. There are also fishing and hunting events in fall. “The stores are gateways to the outdoors,” he says.

From October 24 to the 31, Bass Pro Shops is hosting in-store Halloween events for kids ages 12 and under. It includes a free photo with the Peanuts gang in a pumpkin patch. There are also costume parades, free gifts, craft-making sessions, and the opportunity to enter your child’s school in the sweepstakes to receive a $2,000 grant to start or improve a school garden.

And on October 24, Bass Pro Shops, in partnership with Whole Kids Foundation and GardenSMART, will host a special “Grow A Pumpkin Patch” event for kids, with a garden craft and free gardening tips booklet.

Why gardens? “It’s all about the power of the outdoors and spending quality time in nature,” Lippelman says. “It’s getting kids off of couches. Being outside is good for kids’ physical and emotional well-being.

Bass Pro Shops is a sponsor of GardenSMART, and we thank them for their sponsorship and their commitment to nature and the outdoors. Sponsors are why GardenSMART can continue to bring you the quality garden programming it has for more than 17 years. We couldn’t do it without them.

Click to download a PDF of the Grow A Pumpkin Patch Booklet. For more information about Bass Pro Shops, go to

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