Living things tend to start out as a sprout. Small and fragile, but filled with all the potential of life itself. What sort of world they start out in often makes an impact on how they grow and develop. If things are too rough they may not mature properly or even survive. If things are too easy they may not be tough enough to handle the rest of what life throws at them. This applies to trees in the forest, lettuce in the garden and just as surely to children.
I was working on another Leave No Trace post for today, but my daughter was taking up most of my attention all morning. Rather than let that be a problem I took it under advisement and decided to make this post about her too. Well, not just her, but kids in general and how important it is to get them out there into the world. What they experience as youngsters will be a foundation for everything else they experience in life. Less screen time in favor of getting out there and seeing the real world can only be a good thing in the long run.
Giving them a foundation based on a love and respect of nature, a sense of self sufficiency, self challenge, good nutrition and fitness is probably one of the best things we can do for the next generations. The lure of flashing light and sound draws them to TV and computer screens effortlessly. So much so that parents seem happy to use these things as electronic pacifiers. Later life will likely teach them to be too busy to notice the beauty of life all around them as they rush about doing important things. If we don’t make an effort to help them learn to devote some of their focus to the world around them they may go through life without even noticing it. That seems sad for them and dangerous for the world.
We took our daughter on her first camping trip before she could walk. Once she started walking she began taking us on daily trips around the block and now is always asking to go for a walk in the woods or up the hill. It is hard to say if we are a good influence on her or she on us, but as a family we make getting outside an important part of our life.
Choosing to get out there together whether for a day hike, car camping or backpacking is great, but it comes with some serious responsibilities. Safety is of course the number one focus so you have a responsibility to be prepared. Being prepared will also give you a chance to demonstrate good stewardship of the lands you visit. The younger folk we lead out there will learn from our actions more than our words, so we have a responsibility to lead them well.
If you have kids give some thought as to what you are teaching them about their world. (If you don’t you may have family or friends who do or perhaps you might consider volunteering to work with kids who need adult role models.) Think about what you want them to know is important to you. Then maybe think about finding a path somewhere you can walk together while you can. Soon enough they’ll be choosing their own paths and ours sadly will be less traveled by