Kids and the outdoors go together like peanut butter and jelly, cotton candy and county fairs, horses and rodeos, the list goes on. As you think of memories from your childhood, does a common theme emerge? The ones easily recalled for me center around one thing... being outside.
The wild grape vines growing along the side of mom's garden made for a grand entrance to a young child's hideaway. Our imaginations soared as we stepped into the wilds of our backyard, carefree and full of energy, hours were spent dreaming up and embarking on the next adventure. With instruction to be home before dinner, we were off to explore the corn field just north of the house, playing, dreaming and simply being in the "wild" outdoors.
I can still smell the Mississippi riverbank as I let the water and mud squish beneath my toes. A school of tadpoles swim by quickly, as I call for my mom to bring a bucket down to the riverbank. We would spend hours catching tadpoles, skipping rocks and walking along the river's edge. A young girl's heart learns to love the outdoors a little more as tadpoles swim around in a handful of water. Balancing on a downed tree limb, I cross over and something on the island catches my attention. I'm off to explore. A quick swim across the swift flowing channel, and adventure awaits on the other side.
Swimming lessons were a high priority for my mom since the river ran right through our back yard. With a daughter of my own, I understand why we were required to be excellent swimmers. Looking back at my childhood through the eyes of motherhood, I now appreciate even more all my mom did for me growing up. It was a loving mixture of setting us free, making sure that we were equipped to stay alive, and setting boundaries. I want the best for my daughter. I too want her to experience the wonder of the outdoors and all the beauty of God's creation.
Yesterday, as my daughter reached down to pick up an antler in the woods, she told me that she is learning to love the outdoors. Her nearly two-year old vocabulary of "Daddy," "stuck," "no," "aw (straw)," "baby" and "a-o (Bravo)," didn't provide her with the words she needed in order to tell me. But words aren't always necessary. She simply told me with the twinkle in her eyes. I knew that I was sharing in a memory with my own daughter, that would be a stepping stone to her love for the outdoors. It is something that electronics, video games or the hum of a tv can never replace. I saw it on her face, in the irremovable smile spread across her tiny cheeks and in her outstretched arms that asked me to carry her across the muddy creek, while clinging to her antler shed. As my muck boots squished down into the muddy water, the smell brought a memory flooding back. I was somehow brought back to a Mississippi riverbank with my own mom, time frozen in the mud, captured then released with a splash, leaving only the memory.
I think my mom was smiling down on us as we walked along a small muddy Kansas creek bed, cheering us on as we instill the love of the outdoors in our daughter.
What are some of your favorite memories spent in the outdoors? How do you encourage your kids to love the outdoors? Be intentional. Get outside!
From the Draw
We are devoted to sharing our bowhunting stories. We have a passion for passing on our hunting heritage to our kids. From the draw in the mountains to the draw on paper, the moments live on.