(top: brother & I at Mount St. Helens, middle: Crater Lake National Park, bottom: me on the Oregon coast)
One year later, my eighth-grade class decided to go to Colorado and Utah for our trip. The trip included biking in Moab, doing a program with the Canyonlands Field Institute and whitewater rafting in Colorado. It was an outdoor enthusiast's dream! When we arrived in CO, we stayed in Grand Junction for one night and I was amazed at how beautiful it was, with the mountains towering over everything. Biking in Moab was awesome (although hot & I almost got heat stroke, lol), and the Canyonlands & Arches were indescribable. We were in Utah with the CFI for 4 or 5 days, then we did a 2-night (I think: could've been 3 nights) whitewater rafting trip down the Dolores river. In addition to contributing to my falling in love with the west, this trip kicked off my affair with whitewater rafting - I would go on to do a rafting trip in Maine once a summer for close to 10 years. I sadly do not have any photos from this trip scanned, but it was an amazing trip and I would love to move out to CO or UT someday if life allows it.
Now, my second part of this post, an experience exposing a child to the outdoors. My fiance has a younger brother who's 14, and we try to have him come up & visit us every summer. This past summer we took him canoeing at our favorite spot on the Ipswich river. We spent an entire afternoon on the river, paddling and fishing, and pulling off at Perkins island (not really an island) to have lunch. A couple things to know about my fiance's brother; he's a great kid, but has some issues and was mostly brought up by TV. He doesn't get outside much, if at all, and is kind of scarily obsessed with video games. When he's with us, he does express interest in camping, hiking, biking, fishing etc., but he gets none of that exposure at home. It's pretty rewarding to give him these experiences when he's with us (he lives out of state, by the way, so coming to see us is a big deal).
If we're able to have him come visit this summer, we're going to take him somewhere to do a hike, I think he'd really like it. We may not be able to have him up this summer because of the wedding, but we're going to see. It's nice that he's older and still enthusiastic about doing things like this with us, instead of being a mopey teenager & wanting to stay inside.
I think being outdoors is an absolutely essential component of a good, physically-and-emotionally healthy childhood; I'm grateful for the experiences I had as a kid and happy we can provide a little of that to my future brother-in-law. We plan to raise our kids the same way I grew up: loving, respecting and enjoying the outdoors and being able to appreciate the wonders of nature.