My daughter's eyes open wide as I tell the story about the teeny, tiny, towering trail barely wide enough for my feet that leads up to Angel's Landing in Zion National Park. She listens with disbelief when I share my bungee jumping and penguin adventures from New Zealand or my rafting the deepest river gorge in North America tales from Idaho. To her, it's as if I'm someone else in those stories; a very cool person that's not the mom she lives with and bugs her to floss every single day. Could this be MY MOM???
I go on adventures for many reasons. I'm seeking that moment of awe and new experiences and the thrill of the challenge and that deep, deep time in nature to allow my spirit to reconnect to what life is really about.
There's no doubt I buzz and exude and slather my love for the outdoors on anyone who's around me. And, as a mom of three, my kids, by their mere proximity to me, are likely most affected by my passion toward all things outdoorsy.
Yet, interestingly, upon closer inspection, my kids are inspired by my adventures in a surprising way.
When I return from an epic adventure, my kids don't really care about the panoramic photos or the peaks-bagged or the epic-ness of the experience that I share. Instead, they want to know what was the trail food like? Did I see any animals? Did anyone in the tent snore and drive me bananas?
They want to hear over and over about how I got poison ivy all over the insides of my arms after hugging the camp dog. And did I kiss a banana slug like the kid in their class did on their school hike? And did the stove blow up... again?
It dawns on me that when I get home from bigger trips where I've tackled The Big Outdoors, they ooh and ahh but they don't really get it. That's big stuff. It's the smaller experiences that they can relate to mom participating in which really cements their love and connection to the outdoors.
What becomes most striking as I hold a microscope to my own family is, not surprisingly but a great reminder for parents, my kids are most inspired when they are out there doing adventures WITH me. There's a profound sharing of knowledge and almost tangible joy that happens at that micro-level when managing the moment-to-moment challenge of even just a simple experience in the outdoors.
The grandiose mom who stands on a summit or flings herself off of a bridge is too big for them -- it's like watching an actor in a movie. Not real. What is real is getting muddy. Dirty. Itchy on the trail with mom. Getting covered in burnt s'mores at the campfire. And then sleeping uncomfortably close but happily squished together with a dog's butt and mom's three-day-old socks in their faces. All while a raccoon tears at the trash bag we forgot to put away for the night and then shreds Raman-Noodle wrappers all over the campsite.
As my kids get older, I've noted a little more tuning in to the "awesomeness" of bigger moments. The awe-inspiring vistas that in part drive me forward become more interesting to them and they begin to appreciate some epic-ness in not only me (ha!) but, also in their own selves. Yes it's AMAZING to bag 13 peaks in 6 days.
Though it's moments of mom pulling them aside on the trail to look at "the gross things we can find in the scat" to see what that particular wild animal was digesting that day. Or noting the gentle curl of a brand-new, baby green fiddle-head while we stop to hydrate on our hike which resonate with them now.
They're inspired by the small details within my and their own adventures, weaving a tapestry of positive flow and tangible experiences into a love of the outdoors.
And I take a moment to step back and say, wow, how cool is that.
What about you? How do your adventures inspire your kids, or vice versa?
How My Adventures Inspire My Kids to Love the Outdoors
By Annie Yearout
April 27, 2016
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