“The gift of the outdoors” or “Badlands for good kids”

by Austin Kaus on December 8, 2015 · 0 comments

My father is one of those people that’s difficult to shop for. Here’s how holiday talk usually goes:

“What do you want for Christmas?”

“Pliers, gloves or jeans.”

“You’re a real party animal, Pop.”

Kids can be even worse. As a nerd uncle, I like to play the role of “Geek Enabler,” but there are only so many movies and action figures they can use. Adults and children alike need to remember the outdoors and the adventures that await them no matter what age they are/pretend to be.

South Dakota is spoiled in its scenery (rolling plains and hills in the east, the Missouri River right down the middle, and the Black Hills and the Badlands in the west), but some people go a long time without experiencing any of it. How can you give a gift that will create memories of lifetime?

I have some ideas.


– The South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks has a great page devoted to gifts for nature lovers, sport-folks, park-goers and cyclists. Click here to purchase gifts of camping reservations, annual park licenses, entrance fees and even firewood. All of these can inspire someone to experience the South Dakota outdoors and perhaps develop a new, or at least previously neglected, appreciation for the great outdoors. What’s shopping when compared to a roaring campfire or a morning dip in fresh water?

You can also use the website to purchase hunting and fishing licenses for sportsmen and women. South Dakota is full of opportunities to bring home some fresh and delicious game, so why not shoot for a savory feast from field or lake to plate? (No offense to lutefisk, but I’ll take fresh walleye over damaged…I mean, “lye-saturated” fish any time of the year.)


– Getting kids to get behind vacation plans isn’t always easy. You could describe the Badlands to a child or even show them pictures, but some children are more stubborn than others. Instill a real interest in the Badlands with “The Badlands: A to Z.” Written by South Dakota native Katie Johnston and illustrated by Gavin McCullough, this beautiful children’s book explains the wonder of the Badlands with colorful pictures and educational text that could certainly lead your child to say “Can we go to the Badlands?” For more information and instructions on how to order the book, click here. The Badlands Natural History Association has books for all ages as well as other gift ideas that could pique the interest of potential explorers of any age. To see all products, click here.


– Winter can be maligned in South Dakota, but I see it as something to be embraced. Maybe someone needs some new snowshoes to experience the tranquility of an off-road winter hike. Do you have a skier or snowboarder in your family? Consider buying a season pass or gift cards for Terry Peak, Great Bear, or Ski Mystic Deer Mountain.


– Finally, you can just think what an outdoors person might need. Hiking boots? A reservation at a hunting lodge? Camping gear? A card that just says “We’re going fishing next year in South Dakota. Mark your calendar.”? In whatever form, a gift that fosters a love of the outdoors is one that create lifelong memories. There’s nothing like the camaraderie of a good hunting/fishing session or the feeling of shared accomplishment after a hike. Keep this in mind as you shop this year and always. You might end up giving a surprise that someone will never forget.

Leave your outdoors gift recommendations in the “Comments” section. You can also defend lutefisk…if you really want to.

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