Outdoor kids become outdoor teens giving back
My boys, who were 5 and 7 when I wrote 15 Minutes Outside and who inspired PJ's Backyard Adventures, are now 15 and 17. I always hoped that they would continue to spend summers outside and find rewarding ways to learn about themselves. Seeing their choices unfold continues to give me hope for the future and evidence that time outside, whether alone or with others, helps us grow.
My teens have chosen different summer activities that align with their personalities and interests. My fifteen year old prefers a wilderness camp for eight weeks away from us. The first two years, he attended for four weeks until he begged to go for eight. No technology, daily chores, learning new skills and teamwork, 14-day expeditions into Canadian waters, and only handwritten letters to receive his news. That has been quite an adjustment as a mom. Every time I pick him up, I see how his physical and emotional strength have transformed him.
Each summer, my seventeen year old has explored his love of soccer and travel. This year, he came with me and my mom to visit rural schools in Zimbabwe. Our first, three-generation experience was meaningful on so many levels. Connecting with others around the world is such a wonderful way to see how we are more similar than different and can learn from one another. As we worked with the students in literacy and math, my son learned that he enjoys connecting with kids in a classroom setting in addition to on the field. And even more importantly, he is rallying support for the clean water needs of the children he met with a GoFundMe campaign.
Little outdoor explorers grow into outdoor teens who are curious about the world and think of creative ways to solve challenges. The little explorers I worked with at Matau and Musukwi Primary Schools in Zimbabwe were the most focused, ready-to-learn 4, 5, and 6 year olds that I've ever worked with (out of 6,000 children around the world) and those with the least resources. Imagine over 200 students with one teacher and two assistants, a crumbling classroom, and no water or food at school. My Zimbabwe experience inspired me to create a way for PJ's Backyard Adventures to give back to the children we met. Stay tuned for more on that. In the meantime, your outdoor family and little explorers can support the needs of Musukwi Primary School at https://www.gofundme.com/f/sponsorship-for-zimbabwe-rural-schools
About Rebecca P. Cohen
Rebecca P. Cohen believes time outside transforms our lives for the better. Rebecca has worked with over 6,000 children around the world helping them make outdoor connections for a healthier life.
Rebecca is author of 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids, the children's series PJ's Backyard Adventures, and creator of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards available for iPhone. She is also host of the video series, Get Out of the House, which shows fun ideas for time outside in every season. For Rebecca's inspiring blog and free downloads, visit BeOutsideAndGrow.com