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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Nature? Nurture? Both? When the Child Returns to the Great Outdoors

 





 

It has been a consistent joy to see my adult children wander back outside after the need to be indoors has taken over most of their waking time because of school, work or "activities" (I swear that one is going to be considered a 4-letter word by parents across the world very, very soon). 

There comes a point at which a child is no longer interested in a nature hike with the old folks. Sorry, parents of younger children, I did not mean to give you apoplexy by sharing that. In fact, if your sweet kids are under the age of thirteen, please carry on as though that sentence never happened. Ignorance is bliss sometimes. Between small screens and long papers to be written, a mama might wonder if a child will ever again realize there is an entire world under the sky out there. 

Each of the older three have gone back outside on their own, for their own reasons and engaging in their favorite activities. One has become an avid fisherman, constructing and reconstructing a few small boats for that purpose, and spending days and evenings out on the water. The video-game playing came to a halt on its own, giving way to exploring local lakes and spots on the Mississippi. The word "bait" became a household one for the first time ever, and there has been much debate on the pros and cons of inflatable vs. wooden or aluminum construction and, naturally, on where the boat(s) should live in the winter.

Another of our offspring never stopped sailing, pretty incredible considering that four years of it was in Iowa City, necessitating a car ride to a lake 20 minutes away from campus. In Chicago, when she looked out at that beautiful, blue, enormity of Lake Michigan, boatless and stranded on shore, she found a way to meet people who had a boat but not the sailing skills she possessed. She became a skipper for someone with a beautiful little boat and is as happy as can be, sailing twice a week. Her most recent vacation was a hiking one in the Northwest, splendid.

This one? Above with her sandals on the edge of the frog lab? Amazing! She is making the environment part of her life's work. It is her major in college and she has spent the entire hot, muggy summer working outside for Americorps. 

She has become acquainted with each of the turtles, owls, frogs and snakes on a personal level and learned worlds of information by this micro-study. She can weed-wack an entire trail with a scythe and lead a group of homeschooled kids, cub scouts or girl scouts out into a creek exploration in the pouring rain or the blazing heat and not blink an eye. She regularly comes home covered in sweat and mud and she loves what she is doing. She gave us a tour of her nature-center-home for the summer. Her less hardy, less courageous mom waited until the temps were out of the 90's to visit, and loved every minute of it. Merci, ma cherie!

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