I recently told my five-year-old that he could do anything for his sixth birthday and that we would do it as a family. Keep in mind that offer includes the trampoline park, movie theaters, interactive play museums things of that nature. However he responded that he wanted to hike to the top of a mountain to see everything he could see.￼ My heart melted in that instant, could this kid be any coer?
The thing is in our family we spend a lot of time outdoors, in all seasons, in all weather.￼￼
The spring time means stomping in puddles and looking for signs of budding growth. The summertime is swimming, sandcastles, kayaking, and picnic dinners. The fall is collecting of flowers and leaves and seeds to grow, decorate, or craft with over the winter time. Wintertime is snow sculptures, sledding, ice castles, and ice-skating. We celebrate the beauty that each season has to offer and by perpetually looking for the beauty in each new situation we teach our children to look for beauty in their life around them every day. Preparing them to be adults better able to adapt to new situations (theoretically).
There are things we have not yet been able to do with our three small children. I long for the day when we can go backpacking and everyone can carry their own gear. Hikes that involve technical climbing, lots of ice, or a steep drop are general no-gos at this point. As they get older there’s new things that we can add to our hikes, such as plant and animal identification guides.
There are certain things I take into account before setting a location. It is also knowing what trails have a waterfall for playing in and might need a bathing suit, or which might have a bench to stop and have a snack, what hikes have wet areas that may be overrun with baby bugs in the spring time and to avoid or have bug repellent.
It is also important to rely on the support of other adults when going in a much longer hike that will require children to be carried fir various length of time.
Most importantly I believe that by connecting to nature we can connect to parts of ourselves that in modern times we’ve become disconnected to. The natural ebb and flow of the seasons and how they affect our cyclical body. Or the cultivating of awe and wonder from walking out under the stars in the middle of the night. That in immersing my children in nature I’m giving them the opportunity to see a natural state of being. Something unadulterated by mankind. It’s important to know where we come from a we can know the direction we need to go.