I believe in the importance of the outdoors. I grew up in a very busy household; my parents worked demanding jobs. They also had a second full-time job at the homestead; my mother was a gardener, housekeeper, and cook while my father was a landscaper, sheep farmer, and mechanic. I quickly become the laborer for all of these tasks as soon as school was over for the day or out for the summer. While I loved to work and learn from my parents’ years of experience, there was always a call from the “woods” that had to be answered.
As I ran towards the woods, I would consider all of the chores and schoolwork I needed to do, but as soon as I hit the first stream, the big willow and the old fort I built, all thoughts slowly faded away. As I began to discover all of God’s creations and how perfect he seemed to form the natural landscape, I realized that I was right where I needed to be.
The 100 acres of land surrounding my house offered the perfect peaceful retreat 24 hours a day. There was the mountain to climb across the road, the creek to swim in beside the house, the surrounding big woods to wander in, or the 15 acres of rolling pasture land all for me to do with as I pleased. My passion for the outdoors started at a very young age on hunting trips with my Dad, cross country skiing, camping trips, and countless hikes “up over the hill.”
When I was ten, my Granddad taught me all the essentials of the outdoors. As I sat and listened, I was captivated by all of the knowledge that he had and the fact that he was sharing it all with me. I learned how to use a compass, ways to start a fire, how to tie knots, and the proper way to shoot a firearm. Despite my short attention span and poor memory, to this day I still remember every single thing he has taught me. Even though he has passed away, the simple little things that I learned from him over ten years ago prove to be useful skills that every kid should know.
The outdoors has been a big part of my life as I have grown up. Starting at the age of five, I ran into the woods playing “cops and robbers” with my brother. Once we were mature enough, we moved on to bigger things like building dams in the creek and constructing forts in the woods. Finally came the best day of my life, I was 12 years old and I could finally get my hunting license. The memories that I have from all of the hunting trips with my Dad are moments that will never be forgotten. There were also those days when I had to escape to the woods just to think, whether it was about school, family, dreams of my future, or that special girl on my mind. Regardless of what it was, the silence of the outdoors seemed to provide me with all the answers that I ever needed.
It scares me to think of what the Xbox and AOL generation of kids might be missing. I believe that fresh air, freedom, and the country are the perfect blend of ingredients in making a good American citizen and “I thank God I’m a Country Boy.”
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