Why Every Parent Should Get Their Kids Outside

By Joyce Lin, University of Washington ENO Brand Ambassador

To my wonderful mother: Thank you for teaching me to love the outdoors. While most of my friends grew up with Disney Land and Six Flags, I grew up with weekend trips to Rainier with my family, scraping my knees on mountains instead of concrete. I have my mother to thank for that, who dragged my dad, my 2 brothers and I to nearly every national park in the Northwest USA (and Alberta) by the time I was 11. That’s right- In addition to my birth, these great genes, and thousands of dollars, I also have some of my best memories to thank my mother for. Now that I’m close to graduating college, I’m hoping it’ll be my turn to treat her and drag her all over the world.

Take your Kids Exploring- even if they initially might not want to. I’m not going to lie- when I was younger I didn’t appreciate campouts nearly as much as I should have. Did I whine about the long car rides? Yes. Not being able to shower for 3 days? Yes. Waking up with the first crack of sunlight? Oh, absolutely. To anyone who’s experienced Mother Nature full force, you won’t be surprised to find that these quirks are the same facets that I’ve grown to love. I’m not saying that going shower-free gives me some sort of sick thrill, rather it makes me think about how our basic needs are almost always taken care of.  It makes me thankful that I can find happiness in something as simple as a warm shower.

You Will Be Paying Nothing for Everything. From the long car ride to the late campfire- every moment is full of bonding for hours at a time, completely unplugged and engaged in nothing but the atmosphere and each other’s lives. I have gathered countless special memories on these trips that I will cherish forever. Waking up my brother by putting wasabi in his mouth, washing red sand out of my hair for days after camping at Arches, watching the Perseids meteor shower from a picnic table with someone I love, laughing at the worst and best Garibaldi trip with my closest friends, the list goes on. These are all moments that I would have never sought out, let alone appreciated had my mother never given me the opportunity to love the outdoors. Now, between midterms and job apps, getting outside is my way to decompress. It is the cheapest, most enduring and most effective form of enjoyment.

Embrace Each Other. Too often we get caught up in keeping tabs on every single person we know, even if they may not mean much to us. Whatever platform it is, I am the first to admit that millennials have a hard time putting down their phones and interacting with each other. And myself? I’m so very guilty- I am a college sorority girl for goodness’ sake. With that being said, I can assure you that if you can find it upon yourself to put down your phone, take the 3-day weekend and spend some time being actively present with your physical company, you will not regret it.

Let your kids have time with you. Let them gain some survival skills. Let them appreciate each moment and find silver linings. Let them fall in love with the outdoors.

Artist Point