Escape the indoors

KC, Mo. family hopes to start traditions with their kids at Bennett Spring


The Sullard family of Kansas City came to Bennett Spring State Park for a few days of relaxation and some important skills training.

It was Kim Sullard's first trip to Bennett. It made a good first impression on her as it has on so many.

"I think it's beautiful. I love it," she said.

The family rented a cabin for their stay instead of pitching a tent like they might have in days past.

"Tent camping with the littles may be a little hard," she said.

Her littles included her 8-month-old son, Jeremy, who had spent a nearly sleepless night in anticipation of dangling his toes in the cool water, which he did.

He was Kim's reason for zero hours of fishing at Bennett so far.

"I fish at home sometimes, but I haven't down here. I mean, he has my hands full," she said.

The handful responded with a happy baby noise.

"That was his side of the story," she said.

Her bigger little was Kallee.

Kallee is four fingers old and not looking forward to going back to school although she admitted missing her friends.

She was anxious to give an up-to-the-minute fishing report.

"I caught two little ones," Kallee said gleefully, but reported they did not put up much of a fight.

She had not yet learned the valuable fishing skill known to anglers worldwide of exaggerating both the number and the size of the fish she catches.

Consequently, her dad, Jordan, had to be honest as well.

"They were pretty small,"  he said.

He held Kallee's camouflaged pink Kid Casters pole while she spoke and was grateful for the opportunity to pass on something of importance to her, a hobby that his father had taught him in his youth.

"A lot of kids are missing out on some of the old traditions, the ways that we used to do things. Luckily, there's still some places like this where you can come out, teach them and raise them right," Jordan said.

He first visited Bennett Spring State Park with his friends when he was in his twenties and was happy to make a return as a family man in his thirties.

"I used to fish here a lot when I was younger, and then we had a family, so it's been a little while, but we're back," he said.

Jordan works in electrical management. He said time spent fishing in Bennett was an excellent stress reliever.

Like so many that come to the park, he was enjoying the pastime that his father enjoyed with him and the expectation of teaching them something more than fishing.

Jordan’s dad took him fishing a lot as a kid, including a trip to trout fish in Colorado.

Bennett Spring State Park has one advantage for him over the Colorado experience.

"It's a lot more convenient here," he said.

And it is a good kid-friendly place for Kallee to hone her burgeoning fishing skills.

"She's getting there, but she's got a little bit to learn yet. Not too bad for a four-year-old," he said.

Kallee was pretty certain she had never eaten fish, even fish sticks, before.

Since it was a catch-and-release day for them, it might have been a while before she tasted some fine trout.

Kim Sullard has hopes that their expedition to Bennett would help ingrain a love for the outdoors in her children.

"I hope they enjoy the outdoors more than they do the indoors," she said.

For her, Bennett Spring State Park is an alternative to getting mired down in the negativity found on the TV and phone screens people commonly deem important.

"I try to shut it off again for myself, fewer screens. I feel like the media makes everything bad, but there's nothing bad right here, so we're good. You can get wrapped up in all that stuff or just shut it off and enjoy fishing," Kim said.

The Sullard family chose fishing.

Coming to Bennett Spring State Park takes a bit more planning and packing for them than it did before the littles came along.

"It takes a little more effort with the kids, but it's worth it," Jordan said.

They provide a new incentive for Jordan and Kim to visit the outdoors and the peaceful confines the park, where the fishing is easy and cool waters and shade and sunshine abound.

"They need to see this and get out here, get dirty and have some fun," he said as Kallee splashed with her pink shoes a bit at water's edge in Bennett Spring State Park.


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