The only camping trips I went on while growing up have been all memorialized by horizontal rain, hurricane like winds, and lack of sleep caused by the possibility of the tent blowing to the ground and trapping us all inside. This was somehow the story of every family camping trip, not matter when or where my family decided to go. There are also memories of making s’mores, trying to make the best fire and catching tadpoles and small fish. I don’t recall exactly where my enthusiasm for being outside came from, but I imagine it came from my parents enjoying no kids in the house and the lack of anything better to do.
Even though I didn’t grow up backpacking, going on canoe trips in the Boundary Waters, or spending summers on long road trips touring our great National Parks, I was still lucky enough to have some open space and trees right in my own backyard. Countless hours were spent whacking down tall grass with sticks, making forts out of logs and leaves and dreaming of living in tree houses up in the tall trees. Those hours spent outdoors has turned into a lifelong appreciation for our wild places, countless days on the river and a career in getting people outside.
In a busy world of TV, video games, and social media it can be hard to get away from the screens that seem to run our daily lives. Reducing and limiting screen time has been proven to improve brain development in children, but we still get sucked into TVs, computers and tablets. Research continues to tie the importance of outdoor play with the development of young children. Yet, we still get sucked into screens and have a really hard time unplugging.
Outdoor recreation has been shown to have many physical, intellectual, emotional and social benefits for not only kids, but adults too. I have been with families on the river that have never been camping, kids that have never seen stars… and have watched first-hand how excited people get when they learn that they can sleep under the stars, swim in the river to get clean, watch a bear scamper across the shore and small birds fight off bald eagles. Need to unwind after a long day of work? Go mountain biking. Need to a fun weekend activity for the entire family? Pack up the car and drive into the woods for a weekend of camping and exploring.
The idea of an outdoor centered weekend or extended vacation may be new to many people. The thought of being unplugged, away from, the busy world can be daunting to many. On the other hand a multi-day rafting trip in the west, a weekend of mountain biking and camping close to home, or maybe even just a night unplugged camping in your backyard is all you need to help reduce some of that stress from living in a busy world.
My job takes me on multi-day rafting trips from spring to fall. Many of the trips are filled with some make-up of a family. Grandparents with their grandchild, entire generations, kids with one parent celebrating a big accomplishment, you name the occasion, I’ve probably seen it.
It took me a little while to realize, but the outdoors has been a huge turning point in my life. Going from a young adult unsure of what I wanted to do, where I wanted to live, and not wanting to miss out on some wild adventure. It has guided and shaped me into who I am today. My days playing outside have led me to a career of sharing the outdoors with others, working with conservation groups to protect our public land, and encouraging people to get outside. It can be hard to measure how important outdoor time is, but I never hear folks regret their decision to come spend a few days floating and camping along the river.
What I would like to accomplish with this blog?
- Show the importance of outdoor recreation
- Tie in outdoor recreation ideas for people and families
- Get people inspired to get outside
- Get families inspired to get their family outside
Growing up in a small southeastern Minnesota town I had zero idea I would be in a career bringing families on multi-day rafting trips in southern Oregon. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would spend over 100 nights a year sleeping out under the stars, recreating on our public lands and having a voice that helps protect our natural resources.
My eyes were open to the possibility of working in the outdoors while on a college field trip, canoeing just outside of Big Bend National Park. One of the guides mentioned how she couldn’t imagine a life not filled with being outside, sleeping under the stars and spending countless hours wondering through the wilderness. My introduction to working in outdoor recreation came while working for the Iowa State University’s Outdoor Recreation Program. From day one, the community of outdoor enthusiasts has kept me hooked.
I have joined countless children, teens and adults on their first overnight camping trips. Sat around the campfire with kids who have never seen stars, or toasted a marshmallow over an open flame. I spend all summer sharing the outdoors, specifically multi-day whitewater rafting trips, with people from all over who have somehow decided to spend their precious vacation time camping along a river.
The outdoors has been a turning point in my life. Going from a young adult unsure what I wanted to do, where I wanted to live, and the desire to learn about everything to slowly building a career that gives me all of those things. Starting out in a career in the outdoors there is so much opportunity to travel, work all around the world, and experience working in a very diverse and ever changing environment.
Reasons why being outdoors is important:
- Gets people away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life
- Introduces people to natural history
- Gets families away from everyday distractions
- Helps people learn about where our natural resources come from
- Life long skills, camping, rock climbing, boating, hiking, navigation
- It’s just fun
- Recreation dollars
- Physical and mental health
- Cultivating stewardship
Outdoor activities / vacations some folks may not know about:
- Whitewater rafting and multi-day rafting trips
- Dog sledding
- Multi-day bike trips
- Canoe trips
- Climbing – trees and rocks
- Windsurfing and kiteboarding
- Skiing, snowboarding, xc-skiing
- Horseback riding and horse packing
There are so many vacation opportunities in the outdoors that many folks don’t know exist. The outdoor recreation industry brings in a significant amount of dollars each year and providing many jobs. This can be huge for communities small and large.
So get outside and enjoy being immersed in nature.
– Michael Hughes
Northwest Rafting Company