|Hank, second birthday......party held at our local nature center's Natural Play Space|
When somebody who's an adventurous person - I'm talking outdoorspeople and urban adventurers alike - think about having kids, there are a whole lot of opinions that they can consult. Confusing and conflicting opinions. But I'll leave you with two thoughts, and a ton of photo evidence (backwards, by age) to back it up. First, if you don't spend much time outdoors before you have a kid, I can't imagine you'll be motivated to do so after you have a kid. Yup. I said it. With extremely rare exceptions, having a child is not going to make you the adventurous person you've decided not to be thus far in life. Sorry.
That being said, if you're already somebody who does a lot of stuff and goes a lot of places, having a child is no reason to extinguish that fire. Yes, YES, it will change. The scheduling. The intensity. The definition of what a "great day outside" actually means and looks like. Those will all change. Younger friends ask me all the time, "How do you do it?" and of course one answer is "we don't ever sleep." But how we've actually done it is just to start. And not stop. And that's my second piece of advice.
Now, if you actually want to learn some detailed, high quality information and tips on raising an outdoors child, then you should definitely visit the other blogs featured in this photo prompt by the Outdoor Blogger Network (click here). Personal references I use include blogging pals at Back Country Parenting and The Kid Project. Look, I don't know how well it will work out - will Hank care about the outdoors? Will he ever understand that we care about it (and the importance of different places, in general)? Man, I just don't know. But for us, here's how we've been trying to get there. Starting....now....and looking back.
|23 months - in the garden|
|22 months - at the natural play space|
|21 months - in the Gunpowder River|
|20 months - on the MD-PA Central Rail Trail|
|19 months - on the Gunpowder River|
|18 months - at the Natural Play Space|
|17 months - Catawba River (NC)|
|15 months - in the snow|
|14 months - NO, it's not too cold to play outside!|
|13 months - Gulf of Mexico @ Gasparilla Island, SWFL|
|12 months - wagon rides at the orchard|
|10 months - Virginia Beach|
|9 months - fun with poultry!|
|8 months - loving the backpack!|
|7 months - the world is mine.|
|6 months - lunch in Central Park, NYC|
|3 months - walks in the snow (48" of snow) with my people|
|2 months old - hike and picnic at C&O Canal National Park|
|1 month old - hike on the MD-PA Central Rail Trail|
|Two weeks old - on the hiking path around the hospital.|
Since Hank learned to speak right before his birthday, our house has been filled with very loud proclamations of "I GO OUTSIDE!" and "C'mon Daddy, I go play." That has led to more statements like, "ooooooo...stars!", "Looky! Moon!, and Dat's not horse. Iss deer."
Maybe that's not for you and your family, although I doubt you'd have read this far if it wasn't. So a word of warning, not as a dad, but as a part-time professor who teaches 17-19 year olds: if you want your children's world to be more complex than just xBox, iPhones, and Best Buy by age 13, you're going to have to get off your ass and show them what else is out there. Look at the photos above - city parks, rail trails, cold streams, hot salty beaches. There's no prescription for what an "outdoors kid" has to be or learn or see to light that fire in their heart.
The only prescription is to take them outside.
|Water wasn't cloudy before the dancing/screaming began!|