Remember running outside on a cold morning with only a t-shirt and shorts? Or your bare hands throwing snowballs until you could hardly stand it? Many of us wistfully recall accidentally cutting ourselves with a pocket knife while whittling sticks found in the backyard or scraping a knee after skidding around a corner, leaving us to carefully pick out rocks and other bits of Nature.
Risk taking with Nature remains one of those elements of childhood that helps create a competent, thoughtful adult. We learn to pay attention while experiencing positive and negative consequences from the more than human world—not just being told what to do by other people.
It’s one of the greatest ironies of being a parent and even teaching at Trackers Camps. A primary tenant of my life’s work is to reduce risk. Everything has to be as safe as possible while also providing outdoor experiences that feel genuine and real.
That’s why our children’s time in the out of doors should go far beyond our camps. Educational programs like Trackers can act a springboard where kids learn useful skills, find friends and get inspired. And we’re always going to play it as safe as possible.
It’s only as parents where we have the liberty to let our children launch down the snowy hill on a sled, climb that tree to the very top and wander the woods with no aim other than grand adventure. So this winter, during its possible cold and rugged days, and in every season, let’s all remember to go outside with our kids to risk and revel with with Nature, with everything real.