Everyone has a unique relationship with the outdoors. I literally don’t remember the first time I went camping because I was too young to form memories. I am pretty sure I was an infant. And if you want to get really specific, I was an embryo. One of my mother’s favorite stories to tell about camping was while she was pregnant with me. My love with the outdoors came at a very early age, but some of my friends were introduced later in the life.
But just as everyone meets their spouse in a unique way, and there are no two relationships alike, no one has the same relationship with the outdoors.
I pulled my two best friends, Crystal and Lagena, into this post to talk about when they fell in love with the outdoors. All three of us have different experiences and different loves. I love going west to high mountains and wide open spaces. Lagena prefers thick brilliant green forests. Crystal likes a combination of the two.
Also all three of us differ in how we were introduced into the outdoors. You don’t have to be raised camping and hiking every weekend, to love doing it as an adult. Some people even get exposed to outdoorsy things when they are middle-aged or elderly. But one thing Crystal, Lagena, and I all have in common is we see the need to pass that love on to the next generation.
Question 1: When did you fall in love with the outdoors and who introduced you
“I never went camping as a child. The only outdoor activity that that I remember was swimming at the lake. There would be family trips on Fourth of July and we would spend all day there. I remember coming home looking like a lobster many a times. ☺ I also remember camping and canoeing down the Buffalo with church youth group. And then did a couple other church camping trips.
It wasn’t until I started dating my husband that hiking, camping, etc. became a staple. ☺ He also took me fishing for the first time. I was close to 19 when I started dating my husband. I would say that until I met him, I was not actively looking to do things outdoors. Once I realized what was to offer in the outdoor excursions, I fell in love. Now we look forward to getting out anytime we can when the weather is beautiful and even sometimes when it is not. :P”
“I don’t remember not being in love with the outdoors. I was lucky enough to grow up on a farm, and whenever we would go out to play we (my brother and I) were fishing in our pond or making clubhouses in trenches. Grandfather would take us out to check the cows and point out things in nature like sassafras tree or milkweed. Whenever it iced, my uncle would take my brother and I out cat walking (this is where you walked on the iciest parts of the land you could find and not fall), and when it snowed my brother and I would take to the sleds. When I turned 13 (after my family had decided I would not kill myself by falling off a cliff) I started to hike with my aunt and uncles.
I would attribute my introduction to the outdoors to my Grandfather and Uncle James. James is the one who introduced me to the concept of kayaks. After he got one, I knew I wanted one. It just took me 8 years to actually get one. ?”
I also don’t remember a time when I wasn’t in love with the outdoors. Like I said earlier, I’m pretty sure I went camping as an infant. When my family was growing up, we did not have much money so vacations were spent camping. Also both my mother and father are avid outdoor lovers, so that’s what we did.
I do remember when I decided I couldn’t live without outdoor recreation. When I was a senior high school, I wanted to get out of town. I live in a national park town. I wanted to work for a big magazine in a city, like Chicago. But after only a short time after going to college, I decided I needed a place where camping, hiking, kayaking, etc., was easily accessible. And I knew I had to get back to Hot Springs National Park, because it is a superb outdoorsy town.
Question 2: What was it that kept you going back to the outdoors time and time again?
“There is always something wonderful to experience each time I go explore nature. I enjoy picking a destination and taking the trip. The whole experience includes spending time with family and friends until I reach the final location and then enjoying the scenic beauty around me. This holds true for state parks I have visited multiple times to epic adventures.
That being said, I will never tire of the outdoors. There is always something new to see each time I go out. I can go to the same park or do the same hike multiple times, especially with the changing of seasons. I also love taking my pets out with me. They live for the car rides and getting to go walking. I just wish national parks were dog friendly… And now that I have my daughter, I have more reason to go.
Another reason I love camping is that I get to “unplug.” Many locations do not have cell service or wifi, so it forces me to not play on the cell phone or iPad. I get to focus on nature. One of my favorite activities to do camping is to sit around the campfire. It is so peaceful and relaxing. The dogs even love it. They each have their own chair to sit in while the campfire burns. ☺”
“I like the peacefulness of nature and the way it clears your mind. A few years ago I went through a very depressed time, and nature was really the only place I felt at peace and that I could be myself. There’s a solace to be had there when you’re listening to birds and water and other natural sounds. I really feel closest to God when I am seeing what he has done over time and continues to still do. It’s very healing.”
I agree, it’s the peace in nature that keeps me going back time and time again. It is also the challenge of the trail and exploring the unknown. I look at folds of mountains and I think, “I want to go there!” I have a deep love for exploring.
Lagena and I recently went to the Grand Canyon. I really wanted backcountry permits because I knew when I saw the canyon, I would want to hike down in it and explore it. Fortunately we got the permits and were able to hike from the rim to the river and back.
Question 3: How important is it for you to pass that love on to your children?
“I would say passing this love onto my children is very important. I have already started taking my newborn out on hikes. The first one was when she was three and half weeks old totaling a whopping half a mile (LOL), which is all I could do at the time. To my latest one was 3.11 miles. Baby carriers make it so helpful to get Aubrey out. Also, there are many social media challenge groups to encourage people to get out. I am part of two. The 365 Mile Challenge that has the goal of doing 365 self propelled miles in 2017. The second is the Hike it Baby group which has monthly challenges to do 30 miles in the month or 30 minutes of outdoor time with your little one three times a week. I cannot wait until she is old enough to go camping in a tent with us.”
“I think it’s very important to pass on what you love to your children, especially nature. Hopefully you will impress upon them that they need to save it for their future generations.”
Passing on this love for nature is very important to me. Not only is the future generation going to be the caretakers of the earth, everyone needs to unplug every once in a while. There is also science that says we need to connect with nature to be happier and healthier.
My parents are in love with the outdoors and so were both sets of my grandparents. It’s simply in my genes. And because of that, I want my children to have a love with the outdoors just as I do.