Saturday, 3 May 2014

We Must Have Been Expendable

While I know that is not true (have to keep the parents off my back) it seems that way when you compare the attitudes of many when it comes to getting outdoors, and the experiences that they will allow their children to partake in these days in contrast with our adventures.  I have heard it described as wrapping kids in cotton, I would hold that it more like wrapping them in bubble wrap it may seem like a good idea but it is hard to breathe through plastic. It cuts them off from new experiences and of a connection with the natural world around them, leaving the feeling or impression that the natural world is scary and dangerous and should be avoided.  It also leaves a disconnect between them and our little blue planet and that ultimately is not good for us or our little blue orb as we need to live here and need all the parts of it to be cared for and to work together.

 I will admit right from the start some of the things we did where not real smart, but we were allowed to get out and experience the outdoors on our own, canoeing in the spring floods on the flood plain behind our house, heading off up a creek to camp on our own, I was about 13 the first time I and a friend headed out in the canoe to camp on our own. At the time it seemed like a grand adventure in reality we were only a couple of miles from home in a field at the back of a farm, but we did it, got our tent up, managed to cook our meals over a fire and make it home in one piece paid for by getting out collecting and returning bottles for their deposits.

The things we did could have been made safer, a life jacket might have been a good idea, not paddling in a winter coat and boots during the spring floods, as they do inhibit your ability to swim, or even be rescued.  Today no one is likely to allow their kids to head out on the water without a life jacket; cell phones are omnipresent and close up the distance while they are on their adventures as they learn to spread their wings. Before you begin to protest yes I know they can’t simply be sent off on a week long expedition in the wilderness with never having spent any real time outdoors, the idea is of gradually increasing freedom based on previous experiences. Getting started is as simple as a tent in the backyard or their own tent while out camping or the cottage.

In addition to an appreciation for our planet they will learn to plan and prepare for their adventures, (they may even develop an appreciation of the work you put into preparing family vacations) while on their adventures learn to manage risks (important for anyone who does not consider themselves expendable), kids will let each other know if they think someone is likely to upset the boat putting them at risk. Putting the trip together and carrying it out successfully they learn to work with others and to contribute to the completion of the journey even if it is just overnight. Hopefully they will also come to appreciate the world we live in and develop a sense of responsibility for it.

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