My kids are city kids. Living just across the Hudson River from Manhattan the only view we have out of our windows is of the walk-up building across the street. We are among the lucky few in our area to have a backyard, but it’s not much bigger than the average living room. After reading Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” I became determined to find a way for my children to spend more time in nature.
Our first forays into nature were disastrous. There was the morning Father’s Day hike at the nature preserve that we had to abandon because my toddler had a potty-training accident. Then there was the afternoon hike in which my children became frightened of the pond adjacent to the parking area because it was covered in algae. (In case you’re wondering, both of these happened in the same day). My friend’s son became terrified of a walk in the woods when they came upon a fawn loping innocently across the path. Sometimes finding our inner nature-child take patience and perseverance. Many outings and nature walks later, we are finally to a point where my children enjoy being in nature and my oldest is now adept at reading trail markings. Part of the key is being prepared with water, snacks, a first aid kit and taking the time for a bathroom break before setting off on the trail. And setting realistic (read: modest) goals.
My friend and I recently took an excursion to “Lorrimer Sanctuary” which is around 45 minutes by car from Hoboken. There is a small nature center, some interactive exhibits, a lovely gift shop and a self-guided trail system. They also hold frequent events. The trails are quite short – not exactly a day’s hike, you can cover them all in well under an hour – so they are perfect for getting outside with small children.
We had so much fun the day we went to Lorrimer, my friend and I have committed to a Quixotic Quest: visiting all NJ Audubon sites before the end of 2013. Will we achieve our goal? Well, there are only eleven sites and we’ve already been to one of them, and most are within an hour’s drive, so the odds seem to be high that maybe we can do it. But what if we don’t? We will have had loads of fun trying. And if we do achieve our goal, then of course we have to set our sights on the next goal: visiting all the nature centers in New Jersey (some of which are also NJ Audubon sites) by the end of 2014.
I enjoy having goals; especially when those goals are good for me, good for my family or, preferably, both. So, what about you? What sort of quixotic quest have you embarked on recently? Maybe your quests don’t have to do with going somewhere but *doing* something. Whatever the case, please share and tell us why you’re undertaking it – maybe we’ll join you! And if you don’t have one, don’t you think it’s about time you started?