It will do you and your family a world of good

Our kids spent a chuck of their childhood living in the Poudre Canyon. And we were lucky. We didn’t have TV. And it was before iPads and smart phones. So what’s a kid to do? Well…explore. Climb the big willow tree to the spot where there’s a natural platform where the branches come out, or ride your bike on the gravel road, or go down to the river and throw some rocks, or chase the chickens around or get chased by the chickens…

They were outside…a lot! And as they grew up, they kept their interest in being outside and being active. Neither one of them even owns a TV. They just never got in the TV habit. We did lots of family adventures together…camping, boating, climbing, hiking, biking, skiing…just generally active outdoor stuff. 

And now that they’re older, 28 and 30, they still choose outdoor activities. And that’s good for me because, sometimes, I get to go. Aly teaches fifth grade now and for her spring break we were planning to go backpacking in Grand Gulch for a few days, but then Andy called from the Texas-Mexico border, where he’s riding his bicycle with a friend (www.pedalingtheborder.com), and said “hey, why don’t you and Aly meet us in Big Bend National Park and we can float the Rio Grande for a few days.” Well, that sounds like fun, so we’re headed down to meet him on Sunday. 

So what? You might ask (…because I just did.) Well, here’s the what: When kids get outside in the changing weather and are active and exploring and just there in the moment (as they say), they’re happy and they’re engaged. They learn how to invent things and imagine things and observe and, when it’s hot or cold, adjust to changing and adverse conditions. I think it helps build some resilience, some self-reliance and some understanding of the interconnectedness of it all. But as we spend more time in front of screens and less time out there in the world, we lose our appreciation too of what the natural world has to offer us. 

I’m not the only one who sees the value of kids getting outdoors. Study after study confirms that we all do better when we have a few moments in nature. We’re wired for it. 

So check out Katie Harris’ story in the Program & Activity Guide in the middle of the magazine about our kids’ nature deficit—why we should be concerned and what we can do about it. 

Also, give a look at Lea Hanson’s Family Activities story about Earth Day and how we can take it deeper with our kids…beyond just another fun holiday. We can give them the gift of appreciation and gratefulness for our planet, and help them realize that they will be the next generation of stewards. 

On a related topic, Kim Sharpe writes about how to put down roots and send up shoots with your kids in the garden. And finally, one more twist on the theme, Lynn U. Nichols writes about smart screen time. 

Hope you find a way to get outdoors and enjoy this spring weather.

Scott