Damon Lofton

Position: 
Mentor
Location: 
New Jersey

I am Damon Lofton, and I grew up a native of Southern New Jersey. I spent most of my youth exploring the ocean, back bays, rivers, and marshlands of our beautiful state. I learned to fish from my grandfather, which is how I began to develop an appreciation for the natural environment and all of its inhabitants. I will always cherish the memories of sitting on my grandfather’s knee flipping through animal almanacs and learning from my “pop pop” what made each animal special. My grandfather helped plant within me the seeds that led to my lifelong passion for the outdoors as well as my sense of responsibility to pass on my knowledge, passion and appreciation of our natural environment.

At 16 years of age with my first job at Tull’s Family Restaurant/ Fish Market. I worked the fleet of boats and their nets that stretched across the Delaware Bay. I learned full circle the ways of fish harvesting and mongering from the ocean, to the market, to the kitchen, and ultimately the customers’ plates. Those memories are priceless!
 
I have many experiences from my youth-- boating with my family, netting fish with the restaurant, and eventually captaining my own 17 ft Boston Whaler at 21 years of age. However, I recall being treated many times as an outsider, a trespasser of sorts. I was the recipient of ugly looks and language thrown my way by people that thought I did not belong because of the color of my skin. These events stayed with me, reminding me that some children and families may not have a strong enough sense of self worth to stand this negativity by people, thus letting it affect where they choose to recreate.

In recent years, I reflected carefully on my personal life, remembering that I was often called “Everybody’s Uncle Damon.” I became accustomed to inviting and taking along extra children on our family’s outdoor adventures. Whether teaching my son, daughter, nieces, nephews, friends, or neighbors to fish, kayak, camp, or hike, the outdoors brought to them new experiences and lots of joy. My life’s passions, my ability and patience to teach children, combined with my past personal experiences have led me to my purpose my vision. Kids Outdoors, Inc. was born four years ago with the mission of connecting children from stressed communities to the natural environment. By providing affordable access and supervised instruction, we promote outdoor recreation. Children learn new activities alongside environmental stewardship.