Saturday, July 19, 2008

The other day at work I read an article called "Connecting Children and Urban Youth to America's Public Lands." I've been aware of studies and writings showing a declining trend of public lands use among our nation's youth. This article featured spokespersons from various agencies including the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management telling their priorities and programs focuses. These agencies are doing much to introduce children to the outdoors.
As I read the article I began to wonder how families fit into the picture. Nature centers, youth groups and schools were discussed often as the means to introducing youth to the outdoors. I thought to myself, "Parents and other family should take a role in this process. Are we too busy working or fulfilling our own ambitions? We cannot depend upon nature centers and government agencies to do all the work." I was pleased to find that the last organization presented in the article, the BLM, included families as one of their three key areas of focus.

Naturally, I began considering what I have been doing with my family to expose my children to the outdoors. Here is a bit of a photo essay:

On Independence Day, my family went to our favorite spot on the beach (recommended to us last year by our neighbors as a good spot for children). We enjoyed great weather and had to tear ourselves away to go to a church Fourth-of-July picnic. After spending the day outside, we finished the day off with a simple camping trip in our own backyard.

Last night I took my two daughters on our second-annual Daddy-Daughter camping trip. We camped in a national forest with a couple other dads and their daughters and paddled a nice (though a bit bumpy) stretch of a beautiful wild river just 40 miles away from home. I expect that my children are developing a connection to and an appreciation for our wild places.

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