It’s Take a Child Outside week in North Carolina. Even though we actually live in South Carolina, I plan on celebrating and making the most of it. It kicked off today with National Public Lands Day, and I had big plans. An art festival at a local state park started yesterday, and I planned to spend the day there enjoying art, architecture, and the beach. Sadly, my son has contracted a virus, so I’m stuck at home having to face my overwhelming to do list. I thought maybe I might work in an excursion to my local farmer’s market for some goat cheese and tomatoes, but I decided my time might be better spent not ignoring my chores. After all, my son and I will be making yogurt and cheese this week, and I don’t want to overload my fridge or our diets with creamy goodness of dairy
I’m more than a little disappointed, since I’ve been planning this post related to teaching kids about the great outdoors for a few weeks now. You see, I was inspired by a recent trip to another state park and some very rebellious teenagers. I wanted to encourage you to educate your children about nature and our environment to prevent future encounters like my son and I had. A little lesson in respect wouldn’t hurt either, as you will see.
It was a gorgeous day at Little Pee Dee State Park. I met my parents there for a nice day out. Dad surprised us by bringing his new kayak for a little fun out on the lake. We also rented a canoe so we could all go out on the water at once. We quickly discovered that it was unwise to paddle over the patches of water hyacinth as it slowed us down a bit.
At first glance this park seems small with little to do besides fish and camp, but I can see why some of my friends like this park.
For all of the outdoor excursions we take, I decided to start working towards our Ultimate Outsider challenge with the South Carolina state park system. We will find the stamp at each park we visit for our guide books as we visit all 47 parks in the state. Our reward? A t-shirt, a mention on the parks Facebook page, and bragging rights. To help us along a bit, I decided to go ahead and purchase a park passport allowing free admission to the few that do charge an entrance fee. I don’t think most do, but our local ones at the beach do. Since I’ve just made the decision to pull my child from public school in favor of homeschooling, I’m hoping we will be able to take the time to visit our parks more often. We will definitely need to get out of the house to break up the monotony.
We all had a great time out on the water, but it was soon time for lunch. We were in the mood for Mexican food, but the highest rated restaurant of the sort in the nearest town was the Taco Bell. We decided to make the drive to a town just across the border in North Carolina after listening to some advice from the friendly park ranger.
After lunch, it was time to part ways with my parents and head home. We had a choice of routes, but since the park was pretty much on our way home, we decided to go back to walk the beaver pond trail.
It was a peaceful walk at first, and we were hoping to see some actual beavers and other critters. It turns out that the only creature we would encounter on this day was a five lined skink.
Just before reaching the beaver habitat, we came across a small group of teenagers sitting on a bench along the trail. It seems they wanted to avoid company, so they quickly moved on. However, we came upon them again at the overlook, and it was hard to miss them. They were yelling at the top of their lungs. I was a little annoyed, but I figured this might be a teaching moment. Nope. Not for these kids. In spite of my friendly greeting, these kids only got more disrespectful and much, much louder.
You see, the purpose of this little side excursion was to hopefully teach my son about nature and habitats. Instead, it turned into a lesson about respecting our environment as well as other people around us. There are many types of pollution, and noise happens to be one of them. Just ask any seasoned hunter or fisherman. If you live in the city, consider the annoyance of a car alarm or horns.
My son and I were forced to cut our little walk short and head home. I’m disappointed in those kids who’s parents obviously didn’t teach them any outdoor manners or respect for their fellow human beings. But, the lesson learned for my son was a good one. Now he knows why I don’t take a radio when we go camping like some other folks do and why I like to whisper in the woods.
So, our Saturday is over, and we didn’t get to go out for National Public Lands Day, but it is still Take a Child Outside Week in North Carolina. Please, no matter where you live, if you have children, take them outside. Let them see the natural world and learn to respect it. We live on an amazing planet, and if our children grow up without seeing its wonder, they just might not think enough of it to preserve it. Their future is in your hands.