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growingup-feature

“The power of imagination makes us infinite.” – John Muir

He scared me, coming up through the brush on the creek bank. I wasn’t expecting to see a young barefooted boy, carrying a black pond net and white plastic bucket, suddenly appear during my morning visit to the park.

Our young family grew up exploring the outdoors. Even trips to nearby parks would turn into major adventures for their active imaginations.
Our young family grew up exploring the outdoors. Even trips to nearby parks would turn into major adventures for their active imaginations.

I flashed back to our son catching fish near that same creek so many years ago. I can see him riding his bike, loaded with fishing gear, peddling along with his friends, down to the lake. Once, he brought three fish home for our dinner, “stuck ‘um” in the refrigerator, uncleaned, and waited for his mother to “cook ‘um up.”

I wondered if this mop headed boy had brought friends too, or was he alone? Looking around, I spotted a woman sitting by the creek with a dog. Yes, she was his mother and this park was their new front yard. The family had recently moved into a home across the street. The boy and his dog would grow up in the 98 acres of Freedom Park.

This was the second day of what would be an infinite number of imaginary adventures for this fortunate young man. Yesterday had rewarded him with a salamander, today a baby bluegill and a lady bug

Every child in our city should have access to nature. Thanks to the many parks scattered everywhere in our county, there are many opportunities for almost everyone to find adventures outdoors.

This proud boy was on top of my father-in-law’s mailbox. Our children remember the boy with his dog and loved their trips to the river with their Papa.
This proud fella was on top of my father-in-law’s mailbox. Our children remember the boy with his dog and loved their own trips to the river.

The children who take advantage of these green spaces will do great.

There’s abundant support to the notion that children playing outdoors develop capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual development.

Children are smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the outdoors.

Best of all, their time in nature reduces the stress they experience going through the aches and pains of growing up.

The young boy I met won’t suffer from “nature deficit disorder,” a term coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods.

What do you think? This is what my research shows, have you looked into this idea for your family? Tell me what you have learned?

Is the outdoors only good for children or have you found ways for an adult to benefit? What have you learned?

Do you know about Every Kid in a Park and how every fourth grader and his family have free access to our National Parks for one year?

“Because no matter who your are, no matter where you live, our parks, our monuments, our lands, our waters – these places are your birthright as Americans.” – President Barack Obama

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran

Epilogue

Let’s all go outdoors more. It’s a good choice.