My childhood days were spent outside. With little supervision I romped around the yard and neighborhood and made up games, found good places to hide, made stuff out of natural things, ran, skipped, danced, climbed trees, and rode bikes. I often played alone but I also played with friends.
We camped a lot during the summer. At first we rented campsites at Pawtuckaway State Park but then my parents bought a two-acre piece of land set back from the lake. We camped all summer long in our decked out campsite. My father built counters between trees for the kitchen—one to raise the trunks of food and cooler off the ground, the other for the Coleman Stove, the dishwashing station, and the place for our bags of water. We had a screened in porch for the picnic table, a kids’ tent and a parents’ tent, a small portable toilet with a shower curtain around it, and a fire pit. We spent our days and nights at the lake–swimming, boating, sun bathing, berry picking, castle building, and lots of day dreaming. My father would go to work from the campsite and my mother would stay with us. When mom had to work we went to a YMCA camp which was also outside.
During my high school, college, and post college summers I taught sailing lessons to kids. Everyday, all day, outside (for the summers at least) for about 20 years of my life. The result: a serious nature lover. I didn’t realize what an important part of me this was until I read a book by Richard Louv called “Last Child in the Woods” which documents the fact that kids don’t play outside the way Louv and I played outside and that today’s children are often disconnected from nature. Fear of child abduction continues to increase, not because the abduction rate has increased, but because the news media plays the story over and over again, and when they’re done reporting on the story they report on the trial over and over again. Also, technology is an extremely strong lure for children. Today’s kids do go outside, but it is often for organized sports and not for free, unstructured and unsupervised play time. Well intentioned parents hoover, protect, and supervise as kids play.
I love my work as a science curriculum specialist for FOSS, a K-8 hands on science program. I am an outdoor education specialist but believe the entire program, when implemented well, can change lives. I’m pretty passionate about education as a whole and how to improve the opportunities for all children. I believe getting students outside connected to nature is essential for the future of our planet. If kids aren’t connected to nature why in the world would they want to save it when they are adults?
I also love to race sailboats, tap maple trees, exercise, garden, and camp with my family. I have looked at land and would love to give my kids the gift of camping all summer long.
I live in Portland, Maine. My husband and I try to keep life balanced while we raise two kids and work full time. My duties over the last few years have kept me inside more often than I would like to admit. Part of my Everyday Outside journey is about reconnecting with that essential part of my being. Although my daily outings cannot compare (in length anyway) to what I had as a child or young adult, I feel a darkened part of my soul starting to come to life again. There is no getting around it–I need to be outside often.
Thanks for coming along on this journey with me. Drop a comment and let me know what you’re doing outside these days.