Great Outdoors

Kristena - Park City, Kansas
Entered on May 3, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, nature
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I believe that the great outdoors should be a part of every childhood. There are so many lessons that I learned while being outside. Whether we were working in the yard, camping at the lake or fishing in a pond there was always something exciting to do and something important to learn.

I’m am always in awe when I am telling a childhood story about camping and fishing and someone tells me that they never went camping as a kid. My whole life has been filled with camping trips and fishing and shooting guns. I spent most days outdoors as a child. I can remember taking my homework and instrument outside after school just to get away from the stuffy air inside. My dad enjoyed the outdoors as well and instilled in us many life lessons.

The summer time every year meant that we would be making regular camping trips to get away. Through these trips we learned about awareness, safety and relaxation. My dad was a stickler for taking care of things. That was especially true of the outdoors. When we arrived at a site we took note of how everything was placed and in what condition the camp site was in. We always left our site just the way it looked when we arrived or better and we always lent our neighbors a helping hand if they were having troubles.

Going fishing with three young kids required a lot of awareness on everyone’s part. The moment I picked up a fishing pole I was responsible for what happened to it and what I did with it. I always had to check my surroundings before casting so that I didn’t catch anyone with my hook. At the same time I was also responsible for knowing where I was standing and if anyone was casting around me. If someone got hooked then both parties were responsible for not being careful. As an adult I already know that my mistakes are my responsibility even when other people are involved.

Our flower and vegetable garden were another great joy from my childhood. It required daily watering and lots of patience as we waited for our plants to grow and produce fruit. As a 9-year-old girl I dreaded having to spend an hour watering every night but I was always tickled as I watched the plants grow.

At about the same age my dad taught me how to water ski. I’m not sure who was more frustrated that day as I tumbled off of my skis over and over again. I wanted to conquer that skill so badly but was really struggling to stay up on the water. By the end of the weekend I was getting up and staying up. My dad was so proud of me and I couldn’t have been happier. To this day I feel my dad’s pride and my accomplishment when I ski. If I hadn’t been determined to stick with it then my weekend would have been filled with disappointment instead of pride.

On the surface these may seem like just fond memories but deep down these are lessons that I learned as a child and have carried through to my adult life. All of these traits were instilled in me as a child through my experiences outdoors. Each time I am complimented on one of them or someone comments about them I immediately get taken back to my joyous memories and adventures from my childhood. I am proud every time I am complimented on my behavior and I know my dad is proud of me too.