Great Kids, Great Outdoors

Hot and steamy weather has arrived at last. No matter that school starts for Ursula and Virgil in a week. They’re spending the last of summer submerged in water, pickling and pruning themselves in it. Last night all four of us went for a swim in the pond before dinner, just to cool off enough…

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Last night we went to bed to the sound of loons out on the big lake. This morning, Ursula noticed two of the big black-and-white birds swimming near our dock. From our vantage point, we could even see them underwater when they dove. We weren’t close enough to know if they caught any fish or…

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My most recent post, “Teenagers and Risk: lessons from whitewater paddling,” is an article that appeared in AMC Outdoors Online, a monthly e-newsletter of the Appalachian Mountain Club. I’ve written about risk here before (“You might fall, you could die: teaching about risk”) and will again, I’m sure. “Risk” touches on a surprising number of…

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Bruce Lessels understands teenagers and whitewater. As a 15-year-old with “a lot of energy that was undirected” in Belmont, Mass., in the 1970s, Lessels started going on kayaking trips organized by AMC’s Boston Chapter. It was a different time then: “My mom would drop me off,” Lessels recalls, “and I’d head to some river with…

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The third and final “fee-free weekend,” during which the National Park Service waives entrance fees, occurs next weekend, August 15 and 16, at all national sites that charge an entrance fee. “Fee-free” sites include Acadia, New England’s only national park; the Cape Cod National Seashore; and the Valley Forge National Historic Park in Pennsylvania. Since…

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Born to Explore: How To Be a Backyard Adventurer, by Richard Wiese, is the newest entrant in what you might call “the literature of childhood adventure” — books that encourage children to get outside and do and build the kinds of things their parents or grandparents used to do and build in the outdoors. The…

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Ursula and Virgil have been asking a lot of weather questions lately. This makes sense: It’s been a particularly “weathersome” summer, and they’ve been outside a lot to notice. One recent wet afternoon, I went through our bookshelves to try to answer one of Virgil’s questions. As is often the case with rainy-day research, I…

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“I’m bored.” I think of those two words as summer words. I can hear myself saying them as a child, sunk into a chair at our cottage in northern Wisconsin, too hot to move. I’d already been swimming, I didn’t have a book to read, my brothers were annoying: “I’m bored.” My mother’s response: “Good.”…

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Never go by the forecast. How many times was I reminded of that old woodsman’s adage when I was first learning my way around the outdoors? It was far better to be at the trailhead, prepared and ready for a break in the weather, than to bail out ahead of time and wake up to…

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I ran into a friend (another outdoorsy parent) earlier this week. We exchanged news of our summer so far — trying to catch this year’s rare sunny days, family visits, camps, and on my end, our camping trip, which I wrote about in my July 1 post. I told her about hiking, waterfalls, our encounters…

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