I just picked up a great new book the other day - Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids: A Guide to Getting Your Kids Active in the Great Outdoors by Eugene Buchanan (Heliconia Pres, 2010). It's a fantastic read. The information inside is superb, the tips are life-saving, and the anecdotes hilarious and very inspirational. The content covers all range of kid's outdoor activities, from snowsports to paddling, to backpacking to camping. It's also a very timely book — not only for the rising problem of kids in general not getting enough play-time in the outdoors, but also because I just got back from a week of what I call "Daddy Day Care." For some reason, the week before school our six year old daughter's Summer Nature Camp was closed and, after a game of Paper-Rock-Scissors my wife and I came to the conclusion that she would go to work and I would "parent" Kyla for the entire week.
Needless to say, we spent a lot of time in the great outdoors. But here's the good part — it was my daughter's idea to go camping, go paddling, go fishing and go hiking in the woods (as long as she was aloud to pack her Barbies, of course). Wow. How lucky am I. It was as if I was living the life of the author of Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids.
Eugene Buchanan's book became the bible for me throughout the week. I didn't necessarily need it to boost reasons to get her out; she wanted to be outside and so did I. The information he gave on the trouble we now have due to less and less kids getting outdoors was downright spooky: how 13% of children in the U.S. under the age of five are over weight and that the average kid spends on average 44 hours a week in front of TVs, computers and video games. However, what I really got out of the book myself was what he called "feeding the rat." The book details ways to deal with withdrawals from adrenaline junkies; and my daughter is an adrenaline junkie. She never stops. She's more hyper than I am (if you've met me, you know how scary that really is).
My moment of bliss this week was our last day camped at Silent Lake Provincial Park. It had rained all night and continued through breakfast. My daughter had her mind set on swimming at the beach before we left. I kept reminding her that it was raining. Her response, "Well, I'm already wet so what's the big deal, Dad?" So, I "fed the rat" and we went swimming in the rain (don't worry, there was no lightning) and her response to that magical moment "This is the best day ever! Daddy Day Care Rocks!"
Pick up a copy of Eugene's book; it will truly inspire you to get your kids out more.