A Littel Girl’s Wishes Are Granted

Nothing makes me happier when I see a spark in the eyes of a child who loves to be outdoors. Even at a young age you can tell if you have one of these children or not. I have a family that I offer childcare to that has one of these children. She is just shy of three years old and often tells us that she wants to do the things we do, such as kayak, standup paddle, hike and go fishing. She helps me pack supplies every Friday for whatever it is that we have planned for our weekends and every single Friday she says she’s going to come too. I knew this past Saturday we were going to have a pretty low key day at the beach so our son could give paddling a try so I asked her parents if we could borrow her for the day. They happily granted us this request which meant her little wish was was going to come true. She was finally going to get to kayak, standup paddle and go to the beach with us.

We packed up our supplies as usual adding her water shoes, suit, towel and PFD right along side of our gear. We talked about what we were all going to pack for a picnic, who would all be coming along and so on. We made a list for her mommy and daddy of all the supplies she would need to bring Saturday morning. And, I also added, that she needed to go to bed like a good girl and sleep a long time because Saturday would be her big day.

She showed up Saturday morning and we all packed into the truck and off we headed…to the beach. Upon arrival, she could not change into her suit fast enough. We hauled all our gear to the edge of the beach, laid down some safety rules (no entering the water without a life jacket on) and then it was play time.

Her first wish was to try kayaking. We did bring our recreational kayaks for her to ride with one of us in but my husband was the first one in his whitewater kayak. She immediately ran to him and he just sat her on top of his kayak skirt and she was all smiles.

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We eventually got her to get into a recreational kayak with me and we paddled the lake for a bit before she said it was time for the standup paddle board. She wasted no time hopping on but was a little more unsure about this ride than the kayak. I think she expected sides on the board and obviously there are no sides to hold you in.

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Her biggest wish was to paddle by herself. She is three and it’s all about independence so my husband granted this wish but dropped down to his knees because she was not brave enough to stand.

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She was one happy little girl, doing all these big girl sports. After some time though, the little kid came back out in her, my husband and my son. They all joined her in building a sand castle together.

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We called this Addie’s Island and it even had a waterfall!!!!

About two hours into our day her little belly started to get hungry so it was picnic time. I knew exactly what she all asked for and most of it was granted along with a few of her favorites, like green peppers and hummus.

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We really all had the best time. She was a complete angel the entire day. She enjoyed playing in the sand, getting to ride alone in my husband’s kayak while we spun her in circles and even using her big muscles to paddle with me really fast to beat my son back to shore for our picnic. It was a wonderful day!

I should point out, this is typically not part of what I do for my daycare families. I don’t often see this spark in a child anymore and it is quite heartbreaking that many kids will never get to experience things like this in their lifetime. This is the same child that requested to come hiking with us one day and we also granted her this wish back in Spring. Since then, her parents have followed along and have taken her camping for the first time and also on a few hikes. I am so proud they are encouraging and granting her the opportunity of an active lifestyle in the outdoors.

I am also very thankful they granted us the opportunity to have this day with their daughter. The big hug, kiss and thank you I received when I went to put her into her car seat before leaving the beach for home made me so proud. I am quite sure she will remember this trip for a long time.

A big Thank You goes out to her mommy and daddy:)

 

Getting Your Children Active and Outdoors

Do you wish your kids would play less video games, watch less television, spend less time in front of a computer screen, and get outdoors more often? I remember being a kid and playing outside every single night after dinner until it was dark. I realize it’s a different world today than when I was growing up but watching kids grow up in the profession I have really scares me to think what we are doing as parents with our children.

I have seen many, many families raise their children in many, many different ways over the past 19 years of offering childcare. I can tell you wonderful stories about wonderful children and I can also tell you very sad stories about some very sad children. However, I feel very strongly that if you are going to call yourself a “parent” than you have the obligation to be the best parent you can be.

What I see and hear most from parents today is,”how do I get my kid to play and get more active?” Well, let’s see. This is really not that hard to figure out…. start young and show them what fun can be had without electricity. Wow, now that is a scary thought, I know, but you can do this. Think back to when you were a kid. What did you do? Ride bikes, play frisbee, jump rope, sidewalk chalk fun, water balloon fights, fly kites, have a treasure hunt, go hiking, run through the sprinkler, go swimming, visit an amusement park, have a picnic, camp in the back yard or at a park, go to the beach, and on and on.

One of the biggest things I can not stress enough is if you want your child to be more active, you need to be a role model for that child. It’s like trying a new food. If your 3 year old watches you try a green bean and dislike it, you can bet they will dislike it also. That is,  if you can even get them to try it after seeing your reaction.

Kids of any age can be included in any type of fun at their own level. My family recently took one of my daycare children hiking with us for the day because every Friday she typically helps me pack up whatever we need for the weekend activity my family has planned. After many Fridays of packing our backpacks for Spring hikes she begged to go many times. Finally, we had the opportunity to borrow her on a Saturday and I can not tell you how very excited she was to finally go hiking. Now, she is only 2 1/2 and really had no idea what hiking really meant, just that we packed for it and did it often.

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Of course, being at that age, we did not expect her to put on many miles, hike any big hills or cliffs or expect her to go for many hours. We adjusted our hike to her level and had one of the best days ever just watching her explore and experience different things. We hiked near a stream that she just had to feel.

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We found a few geocaches and called it treasure hunting. She was so surprised to find and open the containers. She had to then go through every item in each one.

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We included her in on the packing of her own backpack, she carried her own snacks, and even had her own water bottle. Our hike took hours because she needed to explore everything possible, every weed, wild flower, even bugs. We even stood next to the stream and watched a fishermen catch a big fish. She enjoyed every second and surprised me when she ASKED for nap time. That was when I smiled and thought, mission accomplished. We returned her home and for the whole next week, I heard about our hiking trip.

Now, obviously the older your children are the easier it will be to do things like this with them. Although, the older they are before you start to give them these experiences the more negative feedback you will also get if they have to shut off the video game or computer to participate with you. My advice is to start young.

Do you struggle with getting your kids to have fun in the outdoors?

Do you have any advice for others to try?

Does today’s generation make you wonder what happened to being a child?