The fondest memories of my boyhood consist mostly of joyful mini-adventures outdoors, whether it was a day at a swimming hole in Novato, CA when I was 10, plucking crawfish from the creek, short cutting through the farmer's field to get to the swimming pool on a hot day, yanking king snakes out from under rail ties, or the summer- age 11- when I slept out almost every night under the stars on a tarpaulin stretched out across the thick grassy hillsides beyond our street- these are the memories of my youth that have followed me.
When I was 8 years old my father purchased my first tent, a two-poled primary colored nylon A-Frame pup tent. This was monumental, as I had spent the first years of my life on Governor's Island, NYC on the Hudson River overlooking the Manhattan skyline- camping out just wasn't a thing kids did in the city, rather riding elevators and subways with mom and dad were more the norm. However, with A-frame tent in hand and the will and determination that only an 8 year old boy could possess, I was determined to spend my first night out in a tent a mere 6 ft. from the front door of our house with book in hand, Fischer Price flashlight, Ninja Turtle sleeping bag, and 'Eddy' the bear of whom I was becoming increasingly disinterested with along for the journey.
The rain drops didn't begin to fall right away, it was at some point well after my regularly scheduled bedtime when I heard the first 'pitter patter' of droplets strike my humble little pup tent. At that point my father peeked his head out from behind the screen door and encouraged me to come inside and try again another night, but I knew even at 8 that I had to prove to them both that I would do just fine on my own. Quickly, water began to let loose from the dark sky, the very dark night I was slightly hesitant to peer out into from under my pocket of security. It's still amazing how a little inclement weather can get the best of us sometimes. Waking up the next morning having weathered the "storm", I fondly remember the sun smiling down on my tent walls as I unzipped my sleeping bag, a welcomed presence in the world of a victorious 8 year old boy having just spent an evening convincing himself that every single bump in the night was either a bear or a mountain lion.
All that long winded backstory to simply say I'm fortunate to begin sharing outdoor experiences with my two young children ages 2 and 3, whether this evolves into a multi-day backpacking trip when they're ready, or simply means getting out and scraping my knees with them at the playground, being outdoors extends the baton to them to begin developing their own memories and hopefully I can facilitate their outdoor encounters until they're ready to forge their own.
Two weeks ago I took my kiddos out for their first blustery overnight car camp to Aguirre Springs, waking up with them next to me in their vibrant colored sleeping bags had me grinning from ear to ear for the better half of the morning. I eagerly sought out affirmation from them to gauge if they enjoyed the new experience, the photographs I believe speak volumes. All is well.
Grilled fajitas weren't enough to distract Addison from the presence of S'Mores
Joel slept through every gust of wind that ripped through camp. My champ.
I'm usually the one running in the morning before work watching the sun come up, on this morning I was more enamored with my daughters rising smile.
"Daddy, I want to go camping and see the moon"
Typical Joel on an atypical morning for him.
If Addison had it her way, S'Mores for breakfast would be a regular occasion
I learned that a short one mile hike can be quite enjoyable when in good company.
Teaching her hands new things.
The outdoors are rewarding and edifying when it's shared with someone else, when the purpose extends beyond ourselves.