Let's Go Outside!

“The children are the future” is something that people have been saying ever since the future was the past. When taken literally, it’s a pretty bulletproof expression: today’s young will be tomorrow’s old. But when we peel back the top layer of logic, what’s really being said is, “up until today, we collectively haven’t done the best job with our world… but worry not, because maybe, with the right training, these new wide-eyed recruits will turn things around”.

Now, everybody has different ideas about what the right training consists of, which can make it hard to find common ground. But one thing everybody shares is an outside. It’s sometimes easy to forget it exists, especially with our busy lives and Netflix queues and Facebook feeds, but no matter where you are, the outside is always right there. Where? Outside. And getting out in it, and getting the future’s future out in it, is a perfect combination of oh so simple and oh so important.

Which is a perfect way to segue into the real reason for this post: Thursday, February 9th is ‘Take Me Outside Day’, a brilliant national initiative in a local winter version from CBEEN, students, educators and local school districts across the Kootenay-Boundary Learning Region to take some learning out of the classroom. A brilliant initiative, I might add, that many local districts have carried over into every season, on any day.

If you’re familiar with some of Wildsight’s outdoor education programs—like the seasonally appropriate Winter Wonder, to name just one—than you already know how much we promote outdoor learning opportunities. If you’re not already familiar, let’s take a break from reading and watch a video.

We believe that getting a taste for fresh air and developing an early awe for nature comes with many immediate benefits. Things like boosting immunity, improving motor skills, increasing curiosity, and stimulating creativity (just to name a few). But maybe even more importantly, especially considering that life goes from feeling like we’re in a sprint to realizing we’re actually in a marathon, starting an inquisitive appreciation of the outdoors in children creates positive implications for the adults they will one day become.

Getting your hands dirty in the garden or trekking through the snow on a field study with your classmates, these moments shape our future relationships with food, community and the world we live in. Once you’ve hiked up a mountain and looked out on the majestic beauty of the valley below, the importance of preserving that majestic beauty becomes a part of your wiring. Creating a connection with nature is not just a bond for life, it’s a bond for all life, and it is something that will be carried from today’s classrooms to tomorrow’s boardrooms.

And, as an added bonus to helping kids get interested in the outdoors, sometimes when us adults think we’re just guiding a child in choosing the right building blocks for the tower they’re creating, we end up making some critical adjustments to our own foundation.

So how about we replace that age old expression of “the children are the future” with something a little less vague and a lot more actionable? Something like, “hey, let’s go outside” (or for the younger crowd: #HeyLetsGoOutside)

And how about we do that on February 9th. And again on the 10th. And the 11th. And…

PS – A special shout out to all the teachers, educators, parents and kids that have been getting outside with Winter Wonder all week!