On top of Bald Mt
A week ago, I went kayaking with my son-in-law and 7 year old granddaughter. Several of her comments got me to pondering. She wanted to know why all children do not like playing outdoors. She also wanted to know why her kayak had to be attached to her father’s with a rope when she knew she could paddle solo (those who know me know where that comes from!)
Introducing our children and grand children to the outdoors is one of the greatest things we can do – for them and for mother nature! With statistics telling us that more of our nation’s children are obese, we need to steer children in the direction that will make them love activity. I have seen few children who do not respond with intense excitement and interest when introduced properly to the great outdoors at a young age. In fact, it is amazing how open children are to new experiences, especially experiences outdoors.
Our children and grand children will be the ones to ensure wild life has adequate food sources and living areas. They are the ones who will need to take up the mantle aging will force us to lay down. They are the ones who will need an adequate “outdoors’ education so when environmental issues come up in the future, they will have enough love and respect for the outdoors to know how to ensure its viability as a national resource.
Begin simply. Take your children to a grassy field, a city park or sledding down a city or country hillside. Take a walk at night (in safe neighborhoods!) and watch the little one’s eyes as they take in the wonder of the moonlit and star sprinkled night sky. Walk outdoors with your children – the entire family will benefit from the exercise, fresh air and time spent as a family talking instead of sitting around a TV. Choose activities that you as parents are comfortable with. If the children see you enjoying an activity, they will be more likely to enjoy it. Choose age appropriate activities. Taking a young child on a 3 mile hike when they are still adjusting to a walk around several city blocks is a surefire way to make them dislike being outdoors – choose activities where the children can feel a sense of accomplishment and they will be eager for further outdoor adventures. Be brave enough to let the children explore and tackle outdoor activities as they are ready to. Let them paddle their own kayak or canoe, let them clamber up rocks that catch their attention. Encourage them to learn the names of plants and animals – the libraries are full of guides if you don’t know the names as is the Internet.
Take a child outdoors to the wilderness to ensure its future!
7-year old paddling Dad's kayak