Wild Wednesday: Growing Up Wild

Raising active, curious, outdoorsy kids

My friend and I were walking along the trail at Blue Jay Point county park this past weekend, her toddler running ahead at top speed down the mulch trail.

"Remember when we were kids and we actually liked to run?" I asked.
"Yeah, like it was just our normal mode of transport before it turned into a torture device?"

We both sighed as Jack continued full-tilt down the trail. He's a hyperactive kid, but Emily and I are eager to get him outdoors so he can expend some of that energy while having positive interactions exploring the world. Blue Jay Point has a play area that is considered "natural play" with wood blocks and a sand area and stumps where Jack, Emily, and I hopped from one old tree stump to another and pretended to avoid the "alligator" pinecones waiting to catch us if we mis-stepped. The mulch hiking trail was less exciting to the little human's short attention span, but fortunately Falls Lake was the big award at the end of the hiking trail. At the very least we figured some brief outings to local parks would help accustom him to the idea of hiking and Emily is introducing him to overnights in the tent at home. 

I can't exactly say I grew up outdoorsy. I grew up loving the outdoors in a house with good acreage. I had field guides and knew the names of all the trees and the underbrush on our property, and at night I lay in the long grass of the old horse pasture and connected the stars into constellations, but I wasn't the type to pack trail mix and head out to the mountains on the weekends. Most of the outdoorsy people I knew spent their time in a deer stand, or else they were outdoors all the time for work and so there was no point in spending any leisure time outside. I didn't figure out that I craved to be out on the trail until after college when I nearly went stir-crazy cooped up in a cubicle. From the trail to the rock wall to the race course, I've found my best moments are the ones I spend outside, and now my friend Emily and I want to share that with her children.

But how to do it well? There are entire communities built around raising kids in outdoor spaces that are more than just freshly-mown backyards, but it seems the only way to learn how to raise any individual kid in the outdoors is to just give it a try. So we'll take him into new spaces and see how he does, and hopefully he'll find that happy place that he seems to keep chasing.

Do you take your kids hiking or camping? Do you have any tips for introducing kids to the outdoors? Let me know in the comments!


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