Children and the Outdoors
When Candi Odde, our Grants Manger isn’t working hard applying for grants to help support Casting for Recovery, she’s spending quality time with her family outside. Read this week’s blog as Candi talks about the importance the great outdoors has had on her tribe.
As a recently self-proclaimed “empty nester” and new grandma, I have had an opportunity to reflect on the way that my husband and I raised our children. In evaluating the good, the bad, and the ugly of our child raising experience, my hopes are to pass some words of wisdom down to my children for raising their babies. One of the greatest joys of our married life has been the ability to share the love of the outdoors with our children. This has not always been a simple or easy undertaking though!
We have come across many people that have claimed that their outdoor adventures were over once they had children – or at least until the children were grown. There have also been others that insisted that they leave the kids at a sitter so that they can go “have their fun.” However, we chose the harder, yet much more rewarding route!
Trust me, it definitely took a lot of extra preparation, extra stuff, little people safety equipment, and a whole lot of patience. Certainly it was extra difficult to strip a newly potty-trained little girl out of her snowsuit on the mountain to go to the restroom. It was challenging trying to navigate helmets, and to create equipment that would strap our kids to us, so when they inevitably fell asleep, they were safely attached to us. We had to pack snacks, diapers, wipes, extra clothes, etc. We had to stop often so that we could fix face masks and goggles and make sure everyone was alright, but the hard work was worth EVERY MEMORY! Our children have shared in our love of snowmobiling, motorcycling, hunting, camping, and just general wildlife watching and experiencing, since before they could walk.
I remember one particular day of snowmobiling adventure in which my husband and I looked at each other and realized that the hard stuff was over! Each child could ride their own snowmobile, they were independent, confident, and pushing their own boundaries. It was pure joy and exhilaration as we watched them develop their own love of the sport and own abilities.
Not only were we able to share our love of outdoor activity, but more importantly we were able to teach our children appreciation for the wild places around them and how to be good stewards of their world for future generations. They probably have a full list of mom quotes about this, but one main one was “we always leave the area better than we found it.” They learned how to be ethical users of wild places, how to help maintain and use trails, and how to be ethical hunters as we respected the meat that the animals provided for our family. They saw nature in action; at all stages of life, death, dormancy and growth.
I believe strongly that these opportunities not only provided wonderful family memories, but provided a conduit for our children to see a world that is bigger and greater than themselves and their own selfish desires. This “stewardship” does not magically occur. It needs to be taught, practiced, and fostered; especially by parents. My hope as a parent, is that the next generation is better than my generation in conservancy and that they will not only pass on a love and appreciation of nature to their children, but build many great memories with their own families.