Outdoor Lifestyle: Kids Outside.

 

Outdoor Lifestyle: Kids cross country skiing

Outdoor Lifestyle: Kids cross country skiing the Lodge to Lodge trail between the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Little Lyford Pond Camps and Gorman Chariback Lodge near Greenville, Maine.

Those of you who follow my blog (hopefully) realize that much of my work is focused on conservation projects – primarily land conservation in New England. This was the case before Marcy and I had kids, but working to protect open space seems more and more important as my kids get older. Kids really do need time out in nature (see Richard Louv’s excellent books “Last Child in the Woods” and “The Nature Principle”)  to help them deal better with stress and to become better problem solvers as adults. The cool thing about this is that you don’t have to do anything special to get the benefit – just send them out and let them play and explore.

Kids making snow angels on Long Pond

Kids making snow angels on Long Pond near the Appalachian Mountain Cluib’s Gorman Chairback Lodge in Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness.

Since they were little, I’ve noticed that if I take my kids outside when they are whiny and difficult, it only takes ten or twenty minutes for their behavior to change for the better. Now that they’re nine and eleven, this still holds true and the biggest challenge is getting myself to make the time and effort to give them opportunities to be out in nature. Part of the challenge for me is that I spend a lot of my work time out in big, rugged, beautiful places and when I’m home going for a walk in a local preserve sometimes seems too pedestrian. I realize that’s a ridiculous sentiment – it doesn’t matter to the kids. The woods are just as interesting to them whether it’s in the heart of Maine’s 100 Wilderness or in a 200 acre, managed forest two miles from our house. And honestly, that 200 acres of woods is just as interesting to me as well once I get off the couch and on the trail.

A couple holds hands in the distance on a frozen Long Pond

A couple holds hands in the distance on a frozen Long Pond near the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Gorman Chairback Lodge in Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness.

Speaking of Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness…last week, we took a trip with friends to two of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s lodges in the Maine woods. This was our second winter visit up there with the kids, and I have a feeling that they won’t let a winter go by without making the trip. In the winter, the lodges are only accessible by skiing or snowshoeing. There are three AMC lodges and a fourth privately owned lodge and you can easily make the ski between lodges in a few hours (the trails between the lodges are in the 7 – 8 mile range.) Before our first trip there last year, I was nervous as hell, wondering if I was nuts asking 8 and 10 year-olds to ski 7 miles in one of the biggest stretches of undeveloped forest in the eastern U.S. (where it gets really cold!) Of course, the kids thrived. We skied about 23 miles in 3 days, and I honestly couldn’t have skied it any faster without them. Plus, they had plenty of energy to ride the gear sled up and down the hill next to the lodge for hours. I obviously, wasn’t giving the kids enough credit for what they can accomplish, and I would venture to guess that most parents in today’s “helicopter parent” society are just as likely to underestimate what kids can accomplish.

If you’ve never witnessed 35 mph winds blowing fresh powder over a frozen pond, check out this video:

Cheers!
-Jerry

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