Raising Well Balanced Children Through Outdoor Recreation

Raising Well Balanced Children Through Outdoor Recreation

What can be said about my daughter? Kaitlin is one of the most beautiful, intelligent and dynamic individuals I have ever met. Of all the people on this planet (and not in the interest of vanity), we are, in my opinion, the most closely aligned in idealism and philosophy while remaining individualistic in our preferred application of of outdoor recreation. If I would have been able to plan and design a remarkable child, I could not have imagined a daughter that would defy my expectations and expand the core of my beliefs.

From a young age she has been an avid reader. I have fond memories of vacations to our family cabin, when she would lay awake at night pouring over a book she just couldn’t put down. To me, reading and the outdoors go together like a nap in a hammock; they are both great but better together. Kaitlin was just 8 years old at the time, but at 16 years of age not much has changed, with the exception of her perceptions. The same could be said of us all.

I was recently divorced as Kaitlin lay awake at night reading in our cabin. At 30 years of age, thankfully I was wise enough to realize that my daughter was on the right track, and enthusiastically supported her reading habits. Even when she would lay awake pouring over books until the late hours of the night, she was allowed the freedom to explore her literary adventures. She devoured books in just a few nights, and retained a voracious appetite for literature. I can distinctly remember spending a large chunk of my hard earned wages at the bookstore every pay day. Kaitlin would select a half-dozen carefully chosen titles, and by the next pay day she was eagerly anticipating our next visit to our local bookstore.

From an early age, Kaitlin has openly expressed her distaste for fishing. I don’t believe she harbors any practical dislike for fishing or fishermen; she simply does not like the taste of fish or enjoy the practice of fishing. For as long as I can recall, Kaitlin would ask me to tour the lake in our canoe rather than spend untold hours drifting and angling for fish.

When she was 12 years old, I became concerned that Kaitlin would lose interest in the outdoors. As a last resort, I bought her a flat water kayak for Christmas, and urged her grandpa to buy her a camera. My ultimate vision was to enable my daughter to paddle the pristine waters and take pictures of the beautiful scenery while my son and I tried our luck with rod and reel.

But nobody had prepared me for what happens to little girls between the age of 12 and 13. In one year, I lost my little girl. I don’t mean literally, but we went from holding hands in Levi’s and pigtails to awkward shyness in Lucky’s in one year. I was devastated, but understood the physical transformation that was taking place.

Looking back, the kayak and camera were wise decisions. Kaitlin still loves to paddle and has developed an exceptional eye for photography. At times under protest, she has traveled the remote corners of Idaho and endured our countless adventures. Like her father, she is not one to complain and has consistently retained a positive attitude through all of the adversity that outdoor adventure provides. Her inner adventurer continues to flourish and grow. And throughout it all, her passion for reading has endured. When I think about it now, very little has changed. We still discuss the books we read, and marvel at the photographs of scenic lakes, majestic mountains, and colorful sunsets. Amidst all of our differences, I am actually more proud of my daughter and her beautiful personality, diverse interests and ideals than I could have ever imagined possible. Her constantly expanding principals and beliefs continue to challenge my naive misconceptions.

Since she began her formal education, Kaitlin has remained at the top of her class and maintained a perfect grade point average. I attribute her success to the relentless pursuit of reading, the intermittent exposure to the outdoors, and her own persistent fortitude. With all of the challenges and obstacles that have cluttered her path, Kaitlin has stayed consistent in her core values and beliefs. I have no doubt she will continue to be challenged by life’s relentless trials and tribulations, but through the balance of literature and nature she continues to explore, I am confident she will be well equipped to endure the troubled waters that undoubtedly lay ahead.

My children are as brilliant, beautiful and unique as the geography that defines Idaho. The core components that continue to bind our family are our love and appreciation for the outdoors and everything that is worth preserving. When I consider the tumultuous politics that pollute the muddy waters of conservation, I find great comfort in my diverse family and our shared love of the natural world, and the complexities of its diversity of applications that fulfill us all individually.

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