Get outside, Family!

Get outside, Family!

Friday, December 11, 2015

What's it mean to be an "outside" family?

My son’s teacher was telling us about a mountain resort she’d just visited, saying we might like it because we are so “outdoorsy.” My son was adamant: “We are NOT outdoorsy." He went on to explain that the term better describes people like his friend, whose family does a lot of adventurous and exciting things – like river kayaking, 100 mile bike rides and scuba diving.

I agree with my son, sort of. I wouldn’t call us "outdoorsy," if you mean it in the rugged, sleep-with-the-bears, scale-a-mountain kind of way. Since I write a blog about getting outside, consider this my disclaimer.
Indoor husband plays outside.

My husband and I truly enjoy the things we do as a family outdoors, and we think the kids do, too. Sometimes, though, that is merely trying to bounce a large plastic ball on the driveway so high that it lands on the roof, or taking a walk in our neighborhood to look at holiday decorations. 

I don’t really like taking risks involving physical danger, and my husband hates poison ivy, so those limitations narrow our list of "outdoorsy" activities. White water rafting? Done it, I still have bad dreams about it. A trek on cross-country skis for a night of winter camping sounds amazing, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin that project. Pitching a tent in the backyard, loading it up with sleeping bags and then putting it all away seems like plenty of effort to me.

We do enjoy pushing ourselves, a little. The boys and I are learning to downhill ski, and that’s going well as long as there are plenty of hot chocolate breaks. What works for us? Bike rides on maintained trails, short walks in the woods and sled riding. One time, while the oil was being changed in the car, I played tag with my sons in the small grass yard outside the garage instead of sitting in the waiting room watching TV.

Whoa, right? Talk about adventurous.  

The thing is, in the middle of a week full of driving for errands and activities, evenings eaten up by homework and the lure of ubiquitous screens, taking even a few odd minutes to be outside can feel radical. Sometimes it is very hard to do.

I see how nurturing outdoor skills and adventurous hobbies helps other families build an affinity for nature and wild spaces, and I hope we’ll do more of that as my family grows. We’re all for learning new things. Someday, when the boys are older, I’d like to maybe do a multi-day bike journey, or a backpacking trip.

Today, if I can get them out to play in the yard for an hour or so, I will feel like I accomplished something. It may not be a mountain climbed, but it’s something

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