Monday, October 3, 2011

Through the eyes of a child...

As I was hiking this weekend a small caterpillar crawling on the ground near my feet caught my eye.  I immediately stopped to observe and said out loud "Thanks Jack!"  I was referring to my 8 year old son who's constantly discovering tiny little creatures right at his feet.  When he makes these discoveries, he immediately stops in his tracks and takes the time to observe and investigate whatever he's found. A few of these furry little friends have become reluctant "pets" providing hours of entertainment before being released back into the wild.  While Jack wasn't with me on this hike, seeing the caterpillar reminded me of a recent epiphany I'd shared with him.  

I'm an avid photographer always scanning the horizon for the perfect shot. I'm quite observant, taking in the details of nature that surround me; everything from colors to textures draw my attention. But, I've come to realize that I'm often so caught up in the bigger picture that I sometimes miss the tiny details right in front of me.  Jack has taught me to slow down and pay more attention to my surroundings.  And the shift has been amazing! I love sharing my tiny discoveries with those around me and of course I also love photographing them.  But I'll be honest, more often than not it's my boys spotting the really cool stuff.  I guess I'm just lucky to have such amazing kids as my tour guides!

Take the kids camping but leave the toys at home!

Ladder Toss, cornhole, paddle ball, croquet, badmitten, bocce ball, Frisbee, horseshoes, ring toss, wiffle ball.  These are just a few of the many outdoor games you'll find at your local sporting goods store.  I admit I have more than a few of them. But recently I've started leaving them behind when we go camping.

When we started camping more, especially in large groups, I thought I needed all these great games for the kids to play in the outdoors, but what I discovered is that kids are creative enough to invent their own games. Quite often I would cart the various bags full of bright, colorful plastic pieces only to spend time assembling, searching for lost pieces, taping up broken (cheap) pieces and eventually disassembling...after very little actual usage.  

Finally I've realized that many of these games and toys are actually only serving to further separate or cushion children from nature. Do I really need to constantly provide forms of entertainment and organized activities for them? No, I don't.  It's time I take a step back and allow children the freedom to explore, investigate and create while I kick back, relax and refuel my spirit!  Now there's a concept. I'm going "old school."