March 13, 2019

Create Lasting Memories

userBy Gwen Dildine user1 Comment

Whenever Steve and I share stories with our kids about our childhoods, we tend to reflect on moments playing outside. For me, growing up on a small farm in Texas offered a heck of a playground–a small pond to kayak, plenty of room to ride a bike, stacks of hay in the barn to goof off on, and more trees than one could climb in a lifetime. I tend to leave out the character building parts at this point–flooding the kayak as a means to remove a cottonmouth, taking off my training wheels and falling into a fire ant pile, playing hide-and-seek in the barn between hay bails and again getting covered in fire ants, and watching the adults construct a tree house that even at my age seemed like it wouldn’t meet code. The point is I remember being outside all the time, or at least those must be my fondest memories because they stuck.

Similarly, Steve spent most of his youth on the west side of the state on two wheels. He rode his bike everywhere, on BMX tracks, in the woods, on back roads, everywhere. Both of us remember a childhood outside. Part of this mission to explore the Blue Mountain region is to encourage and foster a love and appreciation for nature and for outdoor recreation. Unplug from any and all devices and, ironically, connect both as a family and with the wild.

So more than anything in the world, we want them to have lasting memories of spending their childhood outside. One of my strongest memories of moving from Texas to Washington was watching my friend take off her shoes and walk barefoot through the grass. I thought she had lost her mind. Had I dared to do that in Texas I would have probably had yet another encounter with fire ants (I literally get goosebumps every time I type fire ants) or lost a quick battle dodging what I remember calling stick-a-burs. Every time I look out the window and see the kids barefoot or rolling in the grass without eminent pain, I think about how lucky they are that dog poop is really their only nemesis.

Photo Credit: Gwen Dildine

Enjoying a few days on Chase Mountain in the Umatilla National Forest. If you look closely, you might notice one of those hikers is wearing her pajamas. We’ve all had a hike-in-your-jammies kind of day, right?

So in the name of growing them wild, we emerged from the baby years and headed for the mountains. It is amazing how a sense of adventure seems innate in all of us. There is a sense of calm that kicks in when outside. We seem to communicate better; we slow down and enjoy the delays of young children; and the day can be whatever the day ends up being. You can see their minds working in ways it doesn’t necessarily get to at home or school or in town for that matter. They observe, question, and discover. They are active and engaged. We all are for that matter.

I think the plan is working. When I say we are going camping, it prompts at least as much enthusiasm if not more than when I say we are making chocolate chip cookies. I consider that a win, and anyone raising small kids takes those wins as sanity builders. There is nothing I love more than dirty, grass-stained laundry. I love listening to the kids talk about all the different animal and plant species they encountered that day. I love watching them create memories of being outside.

Grow Them Wild is a place to share ideas about how to engage kids with nature. The Blue Mountains offer so much for families to enjoy, so many opportunities to connect. There will always be rainy or freezing days to curl up on the couch and watch a movie, and those are great days as well. But think about all the memories they will make with you to share with their kids someday.